List Issue: Management & People Skills
Whether you’re just starting out in association management or you’ve been doing it for decades, the range of skills you must master is wide and ever-changing. From managing the office to inspiring volunteers to keeping current on industry trends, RAE offers you these tips for keeping your association ahead of the curve and running smoothly.
5 things AEs need to know to manage effective associations
1. How to manage the association and its business operations, including the ability to prioritize and allocate time, finances, materials, space, and human resources, and the ability to coordinate processes and functions that will produce desired results in a professional environment of trust and respect.
2. How to work within the structure of the Realtor® organization, including the ability to analyze, interpret, and apply Realtor® association governance, policies, and procedures.
3. How to recognize real estate industry issues and trends, including the ability to thoroughly understand the diverse elements and issues that contribute to a successful real estate operation; to understand and manage the changing forces that shape the industry; and to foster an environment in which the Realtor® is at the center of every real estate transaction.
4. How to acquire and communicate valuable information, including the ability to analyze and interpret information that is valued and relevant; to market the value of programs and services that meet member needs; and to integrate information, knowledge, communication skills, and technology to achieve desired results.
5. How to nurture effective relationships, including the ability to accomplish objectives through successful relationships and partnerships with a variety of internal and external constituencies and coalitions, and to integrate social, organizational, and technological considerations in the implementation of the most efficient structures and processes.
Adapted from NAR’s AE Competencies and Body of Knowledge, which details the desired skills, and knowledge base of successful Realtor® AE.
6 types of difficult people and how to deal with them
Nothing’s ever enough. If you encounter people who keep asking for more—more time, more money, more recognition, more attention—set firm limits in writing. Say “no” if appropriate. Make them follow the usual procedures but treat them with respect and kindness—just as you’d treat anyone else.
I don’t have time for this. Impatient people are often afraid that time might run out before they get to explain what they want. They can pressure staff to make mistakes. Ask them to slow down and repeat themselves. Remind them that there’s plenty of time to do whatever is needed.
I’m the victim here. Staff may want to sympathize with customers who portray themselves as victims. Those customers complain a lot and manipulate others into feeling sorry for them or taking on their responsibilities. Don’t fall for their endless crises and apparent bad luck; hold them accountable. Help them see their role in a problem they’re having.
You’ll fix this or else. Hostile customers tend to bully staff by being abusive and intimidating. They value high levels of self-confidence and aggressiveness and demean those who don’t possess these qualities. Stand up to them without fighting by assertively expressing your opinion (“In my opinion, you’re wrong”), but don’t allow a fight to escalate.
Do you know who I am? Arrogant people can be very defensive and critical of others. Often this is to mask deeper feelings of insecurity. To service them, never criticize without first offering praise. Don’t surprise them. Be warm and friendly even when they seem aloof. Help them feel connected to others, the group, the team, etc.
I won’t change my mind. Stubborn people resist changes that threaten their sense of security. They become roadblocks to progress and grow even more difficult when pressured. Give stubborn people extra time to adjust to change. Give them options and choices, and be casual in your approach.
Source: Institute for Management Excellence, www.itstime.com
3 do’s and 3 don’ts of association management Benny McMahan, President/CEO, Texas Association of Realtors®
Do make financial information transparent.
Do continue to sharpen your communication skills.
Do become the resident expert on major real estate issues.
Don’t blame others.
Don’t violate confidence.
Don’t accept mediocrity.
3 things to avoid as an AE Kathy Hartman, rce, CEO, Beverly Hills Greater Los Angeles Association of Realtors®
1. Gossiping about your leadership to staff. You never know who will turn on you when they’re unhappy.
2. Socializing with your officers and directors outside the office. Even if you have a very good working relationship with your president and directors, nothing can lead to your downfall more quickly than overenjoying yourself in front of them.
3. Letting family work for you in the office. I wish I had known beforehand what a disaster this could turn out to be. Husbands, wives, their kids, your kids—it becomes difficult when one party does not take direction.
8 ways to protect your reputation
1. Know what business you’re in, and keep that in focus. Associations should guard against diversifying too broadly or creating alliances that aren’t necessarily in their members’ best interest.
2. Create and distribute a written code of conduct for staff and leadership. When insiders (particularly staff and leadership) fail to identify with the association’s values, they fail to deliver what the association promises and risk giving the association a poor reputation.
3. Actively monitor and address member actions. Your members’ actions reflect on the association, so don’t let the behavior of a few bad apples affect the entire organization.
4. Conduct regular internal audits with unbiased auditors. Don’t ignore suspected budget irregularities, and be sure to re-examine your association’s financial governance procedures at regular intervals.
5. Create a crisis-communication plan and role-play scenarios. It’s important to have an established procedure that will enable you to quickly contain the damage in a crisis and then get the organization’s position out to the public.
6. Ensure that the organization’s decision-making process is open and democratic. Stakeholders need to know not just what was decided, but why it was decided.
7. Publicize your association’s good work and achievements. Make sure that people in your association and in the public are aware of your accomplishments.
8. Confront problems to maintain healthy working relationships. The open discussion of issues and their quick resolution can help ensure the association’s survival.
Sources: Mark Thorsby, senior director, Smith, Bucklin & Associates; Steve Worth, president of Plexus Consulting.
5 reasons brokers don’t volunteer and how you can turn them around
1. Reason: They think they know it all already. They may have needed you when they were earning their licenses and designations, but after years of experience and opening their own offices, they’ve changed their priorities from building their own career to building their bottom line.
Solution: Develop educational opportunities specifically targeted to brokers. Market the offerings as “executive level” training or “broker track” to differentiate them from courses offered to salespeople. For example, if you have a general technology class, offer it separately to brokers as “Technology for Managing Brokers.”
2. Reason: Reluctance to “work for” someone else. Following the directions of an association committee chair or executive officer can be a confrontational situation for brokers who are used to running their own show. Some AEs describe their committees as a group of generals who make little progress as each tries to take command.
Solution: Keep your committees small. It’s a lot easier to get five brokers to agree than 15. Make sure committee leaders are elected by the committee or membership and not appointed by staff.
3. Reason: Negative first experience.Volunteers often experience confusion over exactly what their role is in the association. If they have expectations—realistic or not—that aren’t met the first time around, dissatisfaction will keep them from volunteering again.
Solution: Thoroughly assess volunteers’ motives, the reasons they give for volunteering, and their purpose in joining the association in the first place. What are their goals and expectations? What do they hope to learn? Volunteers with no concrete expectations will take guidance well; those with specific expectations may choose their own role and create their own set of obligations. Develop job descriptions for committee members outlining their basic duties and participation requirements. Basic participation duties may include: attending major chapter functions and events, taking part in the strategic planning process, promoting the organization, and being involved in fund-raising events.
4. Reason: Fear of long-term commitments. Many brokers don’t volunteer because they believe it will take too many years of climbing the volunteer leadership ladder to reach a position of power—where brokers most like to be. Or they fear they’ll be locked into a committee for a one- or two-year tour, and their lives are too hectic for that kind
of long-range commitment.
Solution: Create short-term work groups or occasional single-task project teams, instead of standing committees. Communicating via e-mail, posting committee agendas and minutes on your Web site, and eliminating the number of meetings also are useful timesaving techniques. Set up one-day volunteering opportunities; they’re a painless introduction to volunteering that may lead to larger commitments from brokers. Also, reduce the number of prerequisites or restrictions for volunteer leadership positions—other than president-elect, positions shouldn’t be automatic.
5. Reason: Lack of tangible reward or benefit. Formal reward systems in many associations are nonexistent. Broker volunteers often are subject to the same performance standards as paid workers, but with no monetary compensation and little administrative assistance.
Solution: Offer rewards in the form of public recognition, plaques, or one-on-one staff feedback. Create networking opportunities with professionals outside the Realtor® association who can be valuable business contacts for real estate brokers and promote the benefit to their bottom line.
7 Labor Laws Common to Realtor® Association Management
1. Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
2. Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Prohibits discrimination against individuals age 40 and over.
3. Americans with Disabilities Act. Prohibits discrimination based upon disability.
4. Civil Rights Act of 1991. Makes punitive damages and jury trials available to alleged victims of employment discrimination based on gender, disability or religion.
5. Fair Labor Standards Act. Contains minimum wage, maximum hour and child labor provisions.
6. Equal Pay Act. Prohibits any wage disparity between genders in substantially equal jobs.
7. Family and Medical Leave Act. Requires employers to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
Read more about how these laws apply to your association in the HR Toolkit on http://www.REALTOR.org/aehr.nsf/pages/laborlaw
5 easy policy updates to save your association time and money
1. Streamline your adoption of mandatory bylaw changes. Several years ago, NAR adopted a provision that allows associations to conduct a streamlined bylaw change process for those changes that NAR’s Board of Directors have passed as mandatory. This provision allows a local association’s Board of Directors to adopt the mandatory changes and additions at any of their meetings rather than going through the typical process, which could require a membership vote at a meeting of the general membership.
2. Take committee lists out of your bylaws. Many associations’ bylaws detail an extensive list of standing committees that must exist even if they have outlived their original purpose. This forces associations to waste valuable resources appointing volunteers, facilitating meetings, and carrying out the committee’s recommendations. Many associations have moved away from naming all of their committees in their bylaws and instead list only key committees, such as Grievance, Professional Standards, Executive, and Budget. Then, the associations create language allowing their board of directors to annually form other committees or task forces to meet the goals of the organization for that year.
3. Eliminate the steps to approving new members. Some local associations can take up to half a year to carry out all the steps required in their bylaws to approve a new member. These steps could include announcing the prospective member to the entire membership, having a membership committee interview the new member, and even holding a new-member installation ceremony. This time-consuming process can delay services to new members. Since most of these steps are not required by NAR bylaws, many associations have adopted the “provisional membership” option that bestows immediate Realtor® membership to an applicant upon verification of license and payment of dues.
4. Take administrative duties out of your bylaws. Many associations have removed a large portion of their office policy and administrative procedures from their bylaws. Instead, administrative decisions are left either to the local board of directors or authorized staff. For help determining which administrative details in your bylaws may belong somewhere else, take a look at NAR’s model bylaws at REALTOR.org/mempolweb.nsf/ pages/modelboardbylaws.
5. Bring your MLS participation bylaws in line with the realities of the marketplace. Most MLS bylaw language was established long before the industry thought a newspaper or a third-party aggregator would want to join their MLS. If your MLS defines “eligible participant” only as “able to offer compensation” then, technically, any entity with a real estate license may argue they have the right to join your MLS. This bylaw loophole can leave you open to lawsuits, costing the association dearly in time and money.
If the intent of your MLS is to be a service for licensees who hold themselves out to the public as being actively engaged in listing, selling, or appraising real estate, then it makes sense to adopt the optional language NAR approved in May 2002 for MLS participants.
Source: Cindy Butts, rce, cae, EVP of the Maine Association of Realtors®.
10 reasons associations call NAR’s Information Central
1. Questions on professional standards, policies, bylaws, or association jurisdiction questions. (Callers are transferred to the appropriate board policy staff member.)
2. Assistance with updating member records in NRDS. (Callers are transferred to NRDS support at 800/868-3225.)
3. Information about upcoming meetings. (Information Specialists provide assistance or transfer callers to the appropriate member of the convention staff.)
4. Information about how to sign up for the eCommerce system. (Callers are transferred to NRDS support at 800/868-3225.)
5. Inquiries about ordering Realtor® pins. (Callers are referred to Graphix Products, 800/504-6916.)
6. Requests for back issues of Realtor® Magazine for members. (Information Specialists fulfill these requests.)
7. Assistance with REALTOR .org Web site, such as locating the committee database or the agenda and minutes database. (Information Specialists assist callers with these requests.)
8. Guidance with legal issues. (Callers are transferred to Mary Newill at ext. 8380 for trademark issues and to the appropriate member of the legal staff for other issues.)
9. Help using the Realtor® Association Resource Exchange, including uploading documents and searching for documents. (Information Specialists assist callers with these requests.)
10. Library research support for lobbying and legislative issues. (Callers are transferred to a library researcher.)
Call Information Central at 800/874-6500.
11 reasons to use mediation for dispute resolution
* Most disputes are successfully resolved.
* High speed.
* Low or no cost.
* Maintains or improves relationships.
* Improves poor communication and clarifies misunderstandings because parties come together and talk.
* Discovers or addresses the parties’ true interests.
* Allows creative solutions beyond win or lose.
* Respect and civility are the ground rules.
* Solution is just as binding and enforceable as arbitration.
* Moves beyond differing views of law or facts.
10 don’ts for interviewing prospective employees
* Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions.
* Don’t oversell your company.
* Don’t ask for information you already have.
* Don’t allow yourself to be interrupted unless there is an emergency.
* Don’t talk too much.
* Don’t use the interview as your therapy.
* Don’t be afraid to spell out the requirements of the position.
* Don’t gossip or swap war stories.
* Don’t put the applicant on the defensive.
* Don’t be afraid to make the interview as long or short as necessary.
Source: How To Hire & Develop Your Next Top Performer by Herbert Greenberg, McGraw-Hill, 2003.
On being a better AE Jim Peters, rce, cae, e-PRO, former CEO (retired in June 2006), South CarolinaAssociation of Realtors®
Manage your finances and know the cost of every program. I never knew how to get rid of sacred cows or how to persuade leadership to adopt an exciting new program before we adopted “program budgeting.” Tying staff costs and overhead into the cost of every program is enlightening. You open doors to the future and can prioritize, eliminate, and add programs with the full support of your membership. You can sell a dues increase or a radical change in MLS or member services just by presenting a full picture of what the real costs are. (Read more from Peters on budgeting online at REALTOR.org, search “zero-based program budget.”)
11 tips for organizing your association office
1. Take baby steps. Organization is a skill that can be learned. The key to improving organization is to eat the elephant one bite at a time. You may find that what you’ve put off for years takes only an hour to do.
2. Tackle your clutter. Start with the problem area in your office, such as your “to read” magazine pile or the “to file” pile of papers on the floor. Once that pet project is cleared up, move on to your next focus area.
3. Let your computer help. Countless software programs can help you organize your computer files so that digital documents are easy to find. Although this will save you some cabinet space, make sure that you create backup for your electronic files in case your system crashes.
4. Stay on track. Subscribing to magazines that focus on organization, such as Balance or Real Simple, not only will prove to be a great source for organizing tips but also can serve as a reminder to get—or stay—organized.
5. Think like Martha. The champion of handmade boxes and craft closets offers her organizational advice in her book Good Things for Organizing (Three Rivers Press, 2001). Learn to maximize your office space and create useful bulletin boards and binders.
6. Seek expert advice. There’s no shortage of professional office organizers who will come to your office, assess your organizational flaws, and prescribe new daily routines for transforming your bad habits. But for free advice, go online: Type “organization advice” in Google and sort through the plethora of search results.
7. Become a planner. Use a weekly planner instead of a daily planner for a better perspective on your time. Don’t invest in a digital planner, such as a PDA or a BlackBerry, unless you’re very comfortable with the technology.
8. Track time. Set specific time limits on tasks. Use an analog clock rather than a digital clock since lack of time awareness is often a problem for disorganized people.
9. Use your voice mail. Stop answering every call. Interruptions and a lack of focus cause disorganization.
10. Feng shui your office. Place a medium-sized round rug in the center of your office. A deep blue, black, or other dark-colored rug is reminiscent of a deep pool of water upon which to rest the eyes and reflect. Avoid cactus or sharp-looking plants in your office because they will attract fierce and sharp personalities to you. If possible, place your desk in a position that allows you to sit with your back to a wall or corner, producing a feeling of stability.
11. Throw away what you don’t need. Ask yourself these questions: Have I looked at this file in the past year? Does this file contain data that are available elsewhere? Is this a file that can be boxed up and stored elsewhere? When in doubt, throw it out.
Best of NAR’s Realtor® Association Resource Exchange database
* Event sponsorship contract
* Association branding manuals
* EVP employment contracts
* Association policy and procedures manuals
* President’s job descriptions
* Third-party vendor agreements
* Realtor® payers
* Association business/strategic plans
* Association mission statements
* Association disaster plans
* Office policy manuals
Access all these at http://www.REALTOR.org/RARE
10 best practices for managing emotions (yours and others’) in the workplace
Although being labeled emotional typically will negatively impact your career, being considered “emotionally intelligent” is becoming a highly desired label (and skill) in today’s workplace. Here are ways in which you can go from emotional to emotionally intelligent:
1. Label your feelings, not people or situations. “I feel impatient” vs. “This is ridiculous.” “I feel hurt and bitter” vs. “You are an insensitive jerk.” “I feel afraid” vs. “You are driving like an idiot.”
2. Distinguish between thoughts and feelings. Thoughts: I feel as if . . . and I feel that . . . Feelings: I feel (feeling word such as confident, disappointed, or concerned) that . . .
3. Take more responsibility for your feelings. “I feel jealous” vs. “You are making me jealous.”
4. Use your feelings to help make decisions. “How will I feel if I do this?” “How will I feel if I don’t?”
5. Show respect for other people’s feelings. Ask, “How will you feel if I do this?” and “How will you feel if I don’t?”
6. Feel energized, not angry. Instead of focusing on your anger, use that emotion to become proactive about the situation.
7. Validate other people’s feelings. Show empathy, understanding, and acceptance of other people’s feelings.
8. Practice getting a positive value from their/your emotions. Ask yourself, “How do I feel?” and “What would help me feel better?” Ask others, “How do you feel?” and “What would help you feel better?”
9. Don’t advise, command, control, criticize, judge, or lecture others. Instead, try to be nonjudgmental and listen with empathy.
10. Avoid people who invalidate you. Although this is not always possible, at least try to minimize the psychological power they hold over you by spending less time with them.
Source: Steve Hein, EQ for Everybody, 2002.
4 thoughts on being a good AE Gary Clayton, CEO, Illinois Association of Realtors®
1. Be true to your word.
2. Lose the word “my” in reference to the association—it is not your association. Help the association president lose the term “my year”; it’s a team effort each and every year.
3. Having the courage to forgive doesn’t mean you forget.
4. Never, never, never give up.