Morning glory or snoozefest?

Morning glory or snoozefest?

One of the early exercises on our “Managing teams to success” course focuses on creating a list of the key responsibilities of an effective manager. It spawns a useful checklist for managers – including communication, motivation, planning, delegation and more - but its greater effect is that it often makes the attendees swallow hard as they start to recognise the full range of duties which they have to fulfil.

This potential workload, coupled with the fact that a high proportion of estate agency managers are also fee earners, thus having frontline work to undertake alongside leading the team, means a rude awakening for some. The morning team meeting is actually the answer to this challenge, as well as the most important event of the day, as it will allow the manager to tick off a number of their responsibilities in one hit. That is, at least, assuming it is a well-run and effectively structured meeting. Sadly, plenty aren’t…

So what tips are there for an effective morning meeting?

Firstly, pick and stick to a start time. 8.30am means that a lot of ground can be covered before the phones start ringing and customers start coming in. In practice, an 8.30am start time necessitates staff arriving by 8.15am at the latest to prepare mentally and physically (including the obligatory coffee!).

Secondly, an agreed agenda is important. Newly registered applicants, outstanding messages, yesterday’s diary (with emphasis on all key performance criteria), today’s diary (with a discussion about valuations and viewings – what do the team need to do to get the best out of every appointment?), applicants (new/hot/unsuited – checking the quality of qualification and service provided), potential sales, potential instructions, vendor care calls, sales check calls, mortgage opportunities should all be included.

 As each action point and/or objective for the day is agreed, make sure they are recorded in writing, either by you as the team leader (so you can monitor and check whether they are being completed successfully) and/or by way of a central communal system, such as a whiteboard which then serves as a constant reference point for all key tasks for the day. This can then be used in the following day’s meeting as the review mechanism.

 Towards the end of the meeting, a review of all key target areas for the week/month/quarter to date will allow for focus to be placed on any areas for concern, as well as providing an opportunity to praise over-achievement.

 An open question at the end of the meeting to invite any ideas to help create or increase business will potentially lead to a useful team discussion. Also invite any other business to be put forward which would benefit from collective input, such as a problem sale or an instruction that is sticking.

 Finally, reinforce all agreed individual and team objectives for the day ahead and check whether all staff have their day structured in such a way that each will be able to achieve their own tasks while contributing to the overall team function.

 As a manager, you may need to apply the principle of “protected time” when helping staff plan their day. This is a concept which means a slab of time (typically an hour or two) is allocated to an individual where they shut themselves away from phones and public view, allowing them to focus solely on achieving key tasks without interruption. Protected time means just that – the individual must stick to the agreed start and finish times, while their colleagues know not to put calls through to them or disturb them until the slot is over. It is a great technique to ensure staff cannot use the “I didn’t get time” excuse for unfinished priority tasks in the following day’s meeting.

 Keeping the morning meeting fresh is important. The aforementioned agenda can be tackled in a different order, as long as all the key points are covered. Vary the sequence without prior notice – it keeps the attendees alert. Further to this, give different team members different elements of the meeting each day, again without prior notice. As each agenda point comes up, select somebody to take the lead in that discussion…”OK. Time to review potential sales we are working on…Susan, can you talk us through those please?”

 Some more creative managers will use the occasional morning meeting as a mini training session. I produce a property market quiz every Monday covering some of the data, reports and news that have been published in the previous seven days. A number of business owners and managers use that quiz as a fun exercise to educate the team at the end of one of the morning meetings each week – do let me know if you’d like a copy. Alternatively, you could make your own quiz up or simply fire questions at the team such as “So what is so good about your agency?” or “Why do you charge more than Bloggs and Co?”

 Apply all these ideas and the morning meeting will prove to be the perfect start to the day, every day.