As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus crisis, business leaders are activating response plans, from new technology implementations to employee engagement strategies. We sat down with Craig McClelland, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers, to learn how his leadership team is staying nimble and building community in response to the rapid changes the coronavirus outbreak is bringing to the real estate industry.
How have your priorities as a Vice President and Chief Operating Officer changed during the coronavirus crisis?
I’ve been through three major market pivots in the last few decades. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that this is the opportunity for leadership to shine or fail. It’s all about how you embrace what’s going on. You are either going to be human and try to understand where your teams, your partners, and your customers are at, and you’re going to empathize. That, or you’re going to put your head in the sand.
“This is the opportunity for leadership to shine or fail.”
It’s so important for leaders right now to tackle challenges head on and to embrace the humanity of the situation. When you lead with compassion and humility, people follow.
Right now, we’re really focused on keeping our agents connected to the organization and engaged with one another. It can be as simple as asking teams to share success stories – about anything, not just in real estate or their professions. People are dealing with real life. If someone shares how they’re training a new puppy, we all learn a little bit more about them. We can say, “We’re going through this together.” And when we’re in it together, it’s all a little less scary.
How are you keeping your workforce engaged?
One of the first things we did at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers was reinforce the message that our agents are supported. Using Konverse training rooms, we launched a company-wide broadcast video program called the Metro Challenge. We cover market trends, share new tools, and explore how we can meet customers where they are. We feature guest speakers, highlight the success agents are having, and share strategies to win in business. Our goal is to motivate our agents, of course, but most importantly, we want to build community. It’s been incredible for our company culture.
Why is this so important right now?
Agents and staff are looking to leadership for an honest and reliable flow of communication to help them navigate a volatile environment.
Rather than inundate people with too much information from too many sources or leave agents and staff on their own to seek answers, we are prioritizing clear communication. We built out a COVID-19 Resources section in the app to house local, national, and industry materials that are linked and regularly updated. We also offer guidance from our President and CEO, Kevin Levent, on government program rollouts including the CARES Act and share how our agents can directly benefit from these initiatives. By having a centralized hub of knowledge and communication accessible from wherever, whenever, we’re ensuring we aren’t leaving any of our team members behind.
Why do you think Konverse has been so valuable?
Technology was weaving its way into all aspects of real estate, and now it’s front and center. Setting our company apart by equipping agents with cutting-edge tech was an ongoing mission before the pandemic.
When we implemented Konverse, we had a vision. We knew we wanted it to be the first place people went when they started their workday. Whether you’re looking for email, onboarding, setting up training, joining a challenge, messaging a coworker; you’re going to MetroNet (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers’ white-labeled Konverse app). All of our tools and resources live in the app or hotlink out. Either way, everyone starts their journey in the same place.
“A lot of leaders underestimate how important a simple workflow is for employee success.”
A lot of leaders underestimate how important a simple workflow is for employee success. When you have thousands of people who aren’t sitting at a desk all day, who are out in the field, talking with clients, or even working from home like now, simplicity is important. And that has worked brilliantly for us.
What are successful organizations and business leaders doing right now? What can we learn from them?
Don’t be afraid of change. There’s this great book called The Innovator’s Dilemma that says you either disrupt yourself or get disrupted. Every day the world advances, so you have to be willing to advance with it.
We’re constantly updating our website and social channels so that customers feel informed. Our internal communications initiatives have been vital to the success of our agents during COVID-19. We are staying nimble and focused on the long-term.
My personal mantra is that growth and comfort cannot coexist. In times like these, you have to embrace the journey, be courageous, and be transparent. We’re all human and your teams need to know that that is ok. Being vulnerable and showing compassion is necessary right now. That’s what brings people together.
About Craig McClelland
McClelland was a top Realtor before starting a small independent firm in Atlanta after his first year in the business. He grew it to 23 offices with 1,100 agents before selling the company at the end of 2007. McClelland joined Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers in April of 2008 as the Director of Strategic Growth. McClelland was named Chief Operating Officer in 2013 and Vice President in 2018. McClelland is an Inman News contributor, named one of 5 RisMedia 2019 Influencers, board member for Homesnap, board of advisors at Dotloop and the Broker Public Portal board. He also serves as an investor and advisor to several technology companies.
About Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers
Celebrating more than 40 years in business, Metro Brokers has grown from just one office and a handful of agents into the largest real estate company in Georgia and one of the top Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate franchises in the world. The family owned and operated business has 27 offices and 2,500-plus highly trained sales associates throughout metro Atlanta and north Georgia. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers offers a complete range of real estate services including residential and commercial sales; corporate relocation; pre- and post-license training; and insurance, mortgage and title/closing services.