By Sue Styles

“Some days the best thing about my job is that the chair spins.”

This is the quote that is on a card I am delivering to a new administrative assistant this afternoon. She just started two weeks ago for the No. 1 team in the brokerage and everyone is hoping that she enjoys taking on the role more than the last lady. One year prior I helped the team train their new hire Melinda; a few months later, they let her go.

Maybe a similar situation has occurred in your office at one time or another. How do you find the right assistant to help you in your real estate business?

This is a question that stops many brokers and salespeople in their tracks. They are afraid of the hiring process and they don’t want to give themselves the added responsibility of training and managing staff.

If you have concerns about your first hire, or next hire or adding staff, read on! Done right, you will enjoy the freedom of letting go of painful paperwork. Done wrong, you will feel the consequences of a bad hire.

Here are my top tips for finding and hiring excellent staff with the best potential:

1. Clearly express what the role is and what skills are needed.

In your ad, describe the perfect candidate in detail and then add in a bit of personality so it will appeal to similar types of candidates.

2. Take enough time for due diligence.

Notice any discrepancies, call references, ask the people if they would be open to filling in a DISC profile or a similar test so that you can understand their natural strengths and weaknesses.

3. Do not spoon feed what kind of person you are looking for in the interview.

When you meet in person, give the interviewees enough time to talk so that you can get a good impression of who they are as a person, what their highest values are and if they have the character to take ownership.

I like the quote that suggests, “Hire for character, train the skill”.

Once you have hired someone for their character, you start the training. It is of utmost importance to train clearly on one thing at a time. This isn’t the kind of industry where you can just throw a new hire into the ring and expect them to perform.

True, some agents got lucky when they hired and somehow ended up with a stellar support person. For those of you who don’t want to leave it up to luck, here are three key things you can do in the office that will inspire, motivate and turn support staff into superstars.

On the last two pages of my book Be Extraordinary – Right Where Your Are! (for employees), I offer three of the best things I have personally researched that great leaders do.


It sounds elementary, but in practice, it takes conscious effort to be respectful when you are frustrated, tired or stressed out from too much or too little work. If you can show an example of respect you will also receive it – and that will take you a long way.


Be generous with your recognition! One of the top reasons that people get grumpy and quit jobs is a lack of being appreciated for all they do. For example, there is an internationally celebrated day recognizing support staff called Administrative Professional’s Day. It is usually the last Wednesday of April. If you have never recognized your team, your receptionist and conveyancing staff this would be an ideal date to mark on your calendar and effect positive change in your office.

Share your vision

If you hold regular team meetings (great for team building and keeping everyone on the same page) consider sharing where you want to take your business. By talking about your goals, you give others the opportunity to take ownership of your plans and help you realize them.

The best administrative staff have been given ownership to take the role as far as they can. When your team has the freedom to become the best they can, your business will become better than you ever imagined.

Sue Styles has been in the real estate industry for more than a decade. She has managed a brokerage, teaches at the Calgary Real Estate Board and is a certified business coach, professional speaker and author. Her first book, Be Extraordinary - Right Where You Are! encourages administrative assistants and support staff to excel by following her practical and motivational tips. Her new book, The Little Red Stick - What Gets Measured Gets Done reveals all the secrets of high producing agents. Contact Sue by email or call 403-805-7710.


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