When I first began working for Compass, I worried about becoming lost among the thousands of talented people who work for the company. But I’ve never felt that way. Despite its size, Compass has always felt like a family. That’s because I’ve had a leader who worked hard to make it feel that way. Today, I focus on bringing that same close culture to my team, ensuring that they always know that they’re part of something special. Here are some of the methods that I think work best when it comes to building a team that’s dedicated, high performing, and—most importantly—happy.
My job as a sales leader isn’t to close the business. My job is to help my sellers get there. As a manager, you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room. You just need to hire smart people and make sure you remove any barriers that get in the way of them doing their jobs. Offer your opinion when it’s appropriate and hold them accountable for their decisions, but focus on clearing the way to help them win.
The only way to truly determine what your team needs and how you can best provide it is to be in the field with them. But not only should you be with them—you should be present. This means that when I’m with my team members on appointments, tours, or client engagements, I rarely take calls or check email. I pay the price, of course, in a backed-up inbox and voicemails, but it’s important that the team members feel like they have my undivided attention when I’m with them.
When someone on your team’s life goes sideways—they have a relationship issue, health concerns, death in the family, or any similar occurrence—you open your doors as you would to family. You help in any way that you can. When I see a top performer hit a wall that doesn’t make sense on paper, I go to them in person to ask what’s wrong. There’s no Excel spreadsheet or sales forecast that will explain that kind of situation the way a face-to-face conversation can.
Discover what motivates your team. What do they value? What are the things that are the most important to them in their career and their personal lives? What are they striving for? Twice a year I write a personal thank you card to every person on my team. I want them to always know that their work is appreciated and respected, and that they are supported. Tip: Put team members’ birthdays and work anniversaries into your calendar so that you get automatic reminders on those dates.
It’s important that team members—even those that are individual performers like sellers—be surrounded by a supportive group of contributors. Encourage communication and engagement among your group. This could be in a professional setting. We have scheduled calls for team members to discuss challenges, opportunities, and ideas without a manager on the line. Or it could be in a social setting. We always save seats for each other at larger group events and purposefully spend time together outside of meetings. These are the small but important things that bring a team together.
Part of getting to know the people on your team and understanding their motivation is spending time with them. My team is spread around the country. When I’m in someone’s home city, I try to take them and their spouse or partner or friend to dinner. Don’t talk about business—or, at least, not all about business. Just be present and make the evening about getting to know each other better.
As a leader, being humble can be hard. But you must be willing to step into the background and let your team be in the spotlight. You’re not there to tell them what to do. You’re there to assist in their decisions and hold them accountable for them. And ultimately, you’re there to shine the spotlight on their success.