The difficult environment for young real estate brokers
One thing we’ve all learned over the past 18 months is that we don’t have to be in our office to be productive. That said, I’m a lot more productive when I’m in the office and have access to my dual-screen PC setup, a high-quality printer / scanner, and most importantly, my teammates.
Unfortunately, not being with my teammates made it harder to maintain the same level of productivity and took some fun out of the business. Plus, I think the lack of personal interaction had more of an impact on those new to the business than it did on industry veterans like me.
The top three areas where they experience a negative impact are: the lack of learning that comes from being around other productive brokers, getting to know their new teammates and building relationships within the real estate community. .
I remember when I started at Trammel Crow Co. where our office layout was a really open environment; no desks or cubes for anyone, just desks. At times this created a loud and distracting environment, but it also allowed me to hear all types of conversations from first year brokers making cold calls to the development manager to discuss projects worth hundreds. millions of dollars.
Young brokers are too often given tasks to accomplish with little direction or mentoring, as one or both of them work remotely, making learning much more difficult. I learned more from watching and listening to some of the city’s sharpest real estate minds than I could ever learn online or through Zoom.
One of the ways we’ve tried to keep the environment fresh at The Retail Connection is to have our senior brokers take turns sitting in the bullpen. We have found the experience to be just as rewarding for senior brokers as it is for new brokers.
The second area of concern is the ability of young brokers to interact and get to know their new colleagues, especially senior brokers and company executives. Historically, this has happened by spending time together at the office, at lunch, and other networking opportunities.
My concern is that the limited face-to-face interaction will lead to frustration due to the difficulty in building relationships with the business. Before COVID, we set up a ping-pong table in our break room not only to foster camaraderie in the office, but also to encourage brokers to come out of their desks and socialize with the whole team. These organic office activities are ideal for everyone, but especially for those new to the business.
We also have a tradition of a Friday lunch trip to Katy Icehouse or some other fun place (preferably outdoors). The goal is to find activities that foster meaningful relationships which in turn foster commitment and loyalty.
The lack of friendliness also makes building relationships outside of the office even more difficult. Much of my enjoyment (and my success) in the business is based on the relationships I have established with people outside of my own business. I still believe that the key to our business is networking and building meaningful relationships which is clearly a challenge in today’s environment.
Hopefully we can return to safe face to face interaction soon for the benefit of all. Until then, we must all recognize the challenges that young brokers face and make every effort to be inclusive in our daily activities.
Steve Zimmerman is the Managing Director of Brokerage at The Retail Link.