By Kathleen Black

Culture is everything.  That is a fact of life. We travel to experience culture, we celebrate culture and we live culture, but what is culture?

Look at your team – your sports team, business team or family team – culture is there and it governs every interaction, thought and word.  Are you proud of your culture? Do you accomplish great things and build people up?  Do you joke around at the office or do you tear each other down?  That’s culture, and though you can’t see it, it has made those decisions for you.

We know the role culture plays in trying to establish TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) mentality.  We ask things like, why you want to be part of a team and what are the benefits of being a team member? We want to bring about those questions of self-reflection, because the best way to become aware of your culture is to ask yourself about it.

Now, being aware that there is culture in your life, focus on the points of determining what it is, good or bad.

  1. Atmosphere: Is the office a place you want to be? Are you happy to show up every day, or do you drag yourself to get there?
  2. Interactions: Do you offer kind words, thoughts for improvements or demeaning comments when your new admin makes a mistake? The client who can’t make up their mind – are you there with them, or have you had just about enough of sitting around and waiting on their indecisiveness?
  3. Actions: Did you hold the door for the person behind you into the coffee shop this morning, or did you let the door close as you walked away?
  4. Thoughts: You must let a team member go and you think you are being very fair because they had their chance and didn’t perform as promised. Does the team member agree, or do they see it differently – that they were doing everything they had been told to and were living up to expectations?
  5. Unspoken rules: This is tricky. There are unspoken rules in our culture. You don’t mow your lawn on Sunday morning before 10 am and you don’t knock on someone’s door at midnight. Those aren’t laws. Those are parts of culture.

That list isn’t a judgement on your culture, because it isn’t right and wrong.  You promote a culture that works for you.  In our real estate team coaching, we emphasize a culture that promotes the learning of the team systems, because without that we are stopped before step one.  If you have given some thought to this and your culture isn’t what you want to present to team members or clients, you need to make a change. This is harder than just putting “culture change” on your to-do list for next Monday.

You need to step into it with your beliefs held firm, your ideal culture in mind and a readiness to promote, hire and fire people as the culture evolves.  It might seem harsh, but it’s truly, “Get on board or we are throwing you off,” because having even one person who isn’t ready to undertake this with you is going to sabotage the whole thing.

Having said that, I don’t want to encourage you to throw everything away and start new.  Working primarily with real estate team systems, we know there are things in your culture that are phenomenal. Your admin rocks with the filing or your star new hire loves getting in early.  Perfect, keep those things. Those are not just people doing a job, those are people living an art.  That’s what you want.  Also look at some things that aren’t working.  Maybe you don’t love that everyone curses out the photocopier, because it pulls down the atmosphere –  that you can change.

Culture is everything, but it doesn’t have to be a cloud hanging over you.  Real estate consulting is the professional side of our culture, but we also live the personal side and know the difference it can make when you are aware.  Decide whether you like the culture or you don’t.  Change what you need and keep what works.  We are constantly shaping our culture and our brand, and we’re always improving. It’s a process.


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