December 14, 2018

I’m Going To Say Something Provocative

I’m going to say something to team owners and agents that may be a bit provocative. (Of course – that’s like saying “a bit pregnant” – either you are or you’re not.) So here goes:

Is it about you or is it about them?

Around this time each year, I see a bunch of Facebook posts asking what other agents do for their assistants to thank them. Lots of ideas are posted. (I polled the assistants themselves and you can scroll down for results.) The agents are often looking for something “fun” and “splashy” – something they will feel good doing in the moment – you know, like a surprise shopping spree at the mall or a scavenger hunt with envelopes of cash. I love that people want to appreciate their support teams. Their intentions are golden…and assistants totally appreciate being appreciated.

And while these ideas are often good, I can also tell you, without a doubt, there is one thing an Ops Boss™ (EA, DOO, COO or any other letters you want to use to describe an administrative professional in real estate) wants more than anything, and that is your TIME. Isn’t that the same with anyone who cares about you – your spouse, your kids, your good friends? And who spends more time focused on your success than your assistant? Probably not too many people.

Over and over and over on coaching calls, and in the private Facebook groups I participate in, I hear your assistants lamenting the fact that they cannot get a regular, standing meeting with you. Meetings are forgotten, canceled, rescheduled, and bumped. Or the meeting becomes just another seagull dump for the team owner. (Now, I know there are some who do meet regularly. Our coaching clients learn how to make that happen! Just know, if you do, you’re among the minority, and your Ops Boss™ appreciates you!) After 23 years in real estate, and 10 more in the mortgage biz, I know things often “come up”, and that “meetings” don’t feel like a priority. However, when you constantly miss meetings with your Ops Boss™, you’re sending the message that they are low on your priority list.

Recently, I was preparing my own 2019 business plan, and I decided to go back and re-read what Gary Keller (Chairman of the Board of Keller Williams Realty, and author of the NY Times Best Seller “The One Thing”) had to say about prepping for the New Year. I remembered reading it several years back and the part where he talks about calendaring totally changed my life. (At that time, I was a workaholic who had not taken a vacation in several years. So, when I read that Gary blocked his time off as his first priority, I decided to do that, too. I now follow his advice to book and pay for my vacations a year ahead, and it’s been transformational for me and for my family. We’ll be spending a month in Paris next year and I can’t wait. But THAT is another blog post!)

The “time off” part was not what struck me when I read the blog post this year, though. Here’s an excerpt (note – this is how Gary writes; these are not typos):

“ i go to my calendar with that answer for each goal and i time block out the year to make sure those things get done. first, i time block all my time off – vacations, days off, short days, etc., so that i make sure they don’t get left out. if i intend to work hard then i’ll need this time to renew. next is, my meetings with the people who report to me. next, i make sure i have my time to plan out every week. (i’ve done this so long on a sunday night that i don’t even block it anymore), usually an hour a week on a sunday. then it’s all about work. so, for example, if lead generation is your number one business action then you time block it for 5-6 days a week for 3 -4 hours a day before noon. for me it’s writing so my goal is to just make sure that gets done – then i’m open to the possibilities of everything else. my motto is “until my number one priority on my list is done each day all else is a distraction”! (You can read the full blog post here.)

What struck me was just one short line in Gary’s email: “next, is my meetings with the people who report to me.” Time with the people who report to him is the second most important thing he blocks on his calendar – just after his time off and BEFORE his “One Thing”!

WOW. That hit me like a ton of bricks. He wrote a whole book about how important your “One Thing” is. He spent years before that researching it and living it. Yet, more important than your “One Thing” is your PEOPLE.

Now, I realize that’s kind of obvious. Of course our people are important. But do our schedules mirror that, and do our actions reflect it?

I can tell you unequivocally that, while there are many things your Ops Boss™ would appreciate, your TIME is probably on top of that list. To make 2019 the best year you’ve ever had, make it about them, not you. Giving splashy gifts is fun in the moment, so do those fun things. Your people have worked hard and earned the rewards. But also commit to consistently showing up. THAT will impact you both in a positive way all year long.

When you do meet, here are some ideas for agenda items:


  •   Weekly 4-1-1s (Goal Setting Worksheets) – (Do you know their goals? Do they know yours? Is there accountability around the “big rocks”?)
  •   Team GPS (1 Goal – 3 Priorities – 5 Strategies) (Do you look at the GPS weekly or monthly? Do each of you own pieces of it? Do your 4-1-1s reflect the priorities and strategies of the 1-3-5?)
  •   Brainstorming (Do you work “on” the business together? Or are you just task allocating when you meet?)
  •   Communication (Have you each verified the other’s KPA, DISC, or whatever behavioral profile your team uses? Have you laid your charts side by side to see where you have big differences and talked about how to bridge the gaps and leverage your differences? Do you know each other’s love languages?)
  •   Read a leadership book together and discuss it. (My favorite for a team owner and Ops Boss™ to read together is Rocket Fuel. You can find more book suggestions here.)
  • Ask your Ops Boss™ what they need from you. Let THEM create the agenda weekly. (I should have listed this first!)


In the meantime, there is definitely a place for tangible gifts to thank your Ops Boss™ during the holidays (or anytime!). I surveyed a number of Ops Bosses and came up with this list:

  * Invest in Training or Personal Development for Them

Hire a one-on-one coach who is operations focused just for them. Send them to “Be A Boss! 10 Secrets of a Mega EA“, Tony Robbins, Inman Connect, Family Reunion or Ops Boss™ Leader Retreat.

  * Upgrade Their Work Environment

Give them a gift card to shop for new office decor, a stand-up desk, a flexible schedule, the ability to work from home one day a week, unlimited vacation, or a private office.

  * Money, Money, Money

Gift cards, shopping spree, bonus.

  * Appreciation & Time

Write a handwritten note – something specific and meaningful. Commit to meeting with them weekly and really do it! Your Ops Boss™ may appreciate that as much as any of the items listed above.

Cheers to a Fabulous 2019!

Christy Belt Grossman

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