Real Estate Challenges Series: The Bozo Explosion

By Amanda Creter and Alex Mont-Ros

     A few months ago, we met with a very successful real estate agent who was struggling with team members and getting them into production. Time and time again this real estate agent/team leader would hire on someone to find out a few weeks later they were not a good fit and momentum was always lost. As we examined the business from a transaction coordination and consultative perspective, we identified that the team leader was not hiring the type of agents that would help raise the bar on the overall team’s production and growth objectives, which builds momentum and attracts other talented individuals. This was one reason amongst many why their business began to struggle. Most of us never give a second thought as to why this happens to countless teams that are eager to be successful, but continue to be plagued with an unproductive team.

     Any number of factors could have influenced the trajectory of why a real estate team fails to meet their potential. One element that we see often influencing a real estate team’s success, or lack thereof, is the management teams' ability to hire the right talent. In previous Real Estate Challenges Series articles, we’ve discussed the importance of taking your time on hiring the right fit for your company and how it can influence the outcome of your company’s overall success. When it comes to hiring talent we have experienced our own trials as an organization, so we can empathize with those that are going through this today.

      The point we want to drive home is if you hire team members that don’t raise the overall benchmark or bar of the team/organization, you will end up with inept employees or independent contractors that will not add the appropriate value you were looking for. Steve Jobs labeled this the “bozo explosion”. Jobs believed that “A Players” should hire other “A Players”. We are in agreement on this and it needs to be a clear expectation that the leader sets as the standard for all new hires coming on board. When management hires anything less than an A Player, it increases the odds of business integrity degradation and lack of high performance. In return, it becomes a trickle effect where B, C, and D Players become the norm and sets the benchmark for the organization. These players will most likely produce the outcome of a failed organization.

     Notice the image below for two examples that keep the organization or team thriving and on the cutting edge, versus the example that don’t move the organization forward and creates roadblocks to true growth and success. On the right side, the CEO or Real Estate Team Lead and those under them (think of them as Executive Assistants, Transaction Coordinators, Buyers Agents, Listing Agents, Marketing Coordinators, Etc.), were A Players and the hiring process continued to meet the standard of hiring on A Players. This increases the odds of bringing out the best outcomes for the roles they were hired into. However on the left side, When that same CEO or Team Lead hired on a B Player, they also were more inclined to hire down and not challenging the status quo which created a ripple effect of more poor hires. Thus, as Steve Jobs would mention creating the “bozo explosion”.   

     Now, you may be looking at this image thinking your team or organization is different. You may have a small Real Estate team and only have one manager, with a handful of Agents under him/her. With a small team, you couldn’t possibly have a bozo explosion on your hands, Right? If you don't know, its time to take inventory of your team. If you already made the mistake of hiring  B, C, or D Players, take corrective action. By now, you already have an idea of those on the team that are not a good fit by the deterioration of the quality of work, decreased productivity, and possibly stunted company growth. Either provide them better training, repurpose them to a better fit within the organization that plays to their strengths, or cut ties with that employee or independent contractor. Keeping them around hoping they will improve within their current role only hurts the members of your team that are working hard and being productive...the A players.

     Another way to prevent the bozo effect is by diversifying your team. You need different perspectives to think outside the box and grow in ways you may not have seen on your own. Diversity within a company is healthy. You shouldn’t rule a candidate out because they don’t have the right resume. Plenty of candidates have the perfect resumes and still end up being B, C, D, or worse, F Players.

“Keeping them around hoping they will improve within their current role only hurts the members of your team that are working hard and being productive…the A players.”

     So how do you go about hiring A Players? It seems like a simple answer, hire someone smarter and better than yourself. It really is that simple on the surface and you shouldn’t be threatened by this. Many times we may not hire better and smarter because we feel they will out do us and eventually not see the value to stay for the long haul. Another excuse or fear may be that you become exposed of some insecurity as a leader. Nevertheless, don’t be afraid to hire smarter and better, it’s what your business needs, not a bunch of bozos you can tell what to do who add no sustainable value to the organization. A better practice is to interview someone with the thought in mind “would I want to work for you and can you do what I need done better than myself?” If the answer is yes, and they are qualified with a proven track record, you may have found your fit. 

     It is also worth noting, just because a person is smarter, doesn’t mean they will actually be a good fit within your company so don’t make the mistake of hiring just smart people. They could be extremely knowledgeable within one area of the business, but lack EQ and the expertise within your particular field. The worse is having someone who is a genius, but lacks work ethic needed to get the right things done. As Mark Zuckerburg mentioned and rings to be true, “Raw intellect is not the only measure of an effective person; the real trick is finding smart-working people who aren’t jerks that get stuff done.”

     As you are working to grow your real estate business and hiring on team members, keep in mind that you are not alone in this struggle, and let us tell you, the struggle is real. Focus on finding A Players that may be smarter and can do what you do better, or that can focus on doing the tasks better that you don’t find productive as a leader. With this type of focus, you just may reduce the risk of having a Bozo Explosion within your organization.

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