'Hire for Values, Train for Skill'

What a week at the 2019 REALTORS® Conference & Expo! Gathering with some of the brightest minds and most committed hearts to our industry is always a humbling experience. Bringing information back to my local REALTORS® is a privilege I don’t take for granted.

This year I focused on the Broker track of the conference. Saturday I was able to participate in the “Recruiting the Right Agents: The Latest Research” class taught by Jess Biller, president of the Paramount Consulting Group. The insight data and statistics he brings to the recruiting environment is unparalleled. Studies show top-producer behavior is consistent amongst REALTOR® members. As a broker/owner/manager, leveraging that data is crucial to making the right hires and avoiding the wrong agents.

Jess Biller Talking at the 2019 REALTORS® Conference & Expo

Let's face it, as brokers we’ve likely all hired one or two (perhaps more) wrong agents that cost us in the long run. Most often the wrong hires can cost reputation, legal fees, and compromise office culture or brand culture.

In Jess’s presentation, he identified helpful tips to avoid the wrong hires and zero in on the behaviors of top-producing (or those on their way to be) agents in your office that make those long days well worth the energy invested as a broker. Studies show those agents consistently display behaviors that reflect strong problem-solving skills, personal accountability and resiliency. So how do we find those agents and nurture those behaviors? As Biller explains, asking the right questions at the interview is key. When a broker can reach below the surface with key questions that uncover the passion motivators and how one would deal with challenges they will face as an agent, it exposes deeper insight into their natural behavior. Examples of great interview questions to get the information you need to make the best decision for your brokerage include:

  • Give me an example of how you build loyalty and trust with a customer.
  • Describe how you take responsibility for an issue with your customer.
  • Describe a win-win situation you created.
  • Give me an example of a problem you anticipated. What, if anything, did you do about it? What was the outcome?

Jess encourages this approach: “hire for values and behavior, train for skill” rather than the norm of hiring for skill and, ultimately, firing for values and behavior.

One tip that resonated with me most is to recruit agents from an outside field. Those that are already displaying the values and behaviors of top performers and invest time teaching the skills necessary to perform the job.

Ultimately, the data gathered on top-producing agents in our industry offers brokers fantastic insight and tools to help them build firms with stellar agents. Biller offered hope to brokers who have found themselves in the wrong “hire trap” we often face. Moving forward as a broker, I know that I am committed to doing things differently based on what I learned from this insightful presentation.