Don’t let uncommitted agents or poisonous personalities taint your office culture. Here are some tips for handling the situation.

Letting an agent go can be painful, stressful, and sometimes heartbreaking. But after you do it, you probably won’t regret it. So when is the right time to fire an agent? “The moment you have to ask yourself that question,” says real estate trainer David Knox, who presented tips for “decruiting” at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo Sunday. 

If you need to let an agent go for an ethical reason, do it immediately, Knox says. But if you want to let them down more gently, start by setting a meeting a day or two in advance. Say “I’d like to discuss your performance to date,” then ask the agent to bring a list of his or her transactions, prospects, and business activities. It will give them a few days to think about the meeting, and as they mull over their business, they may reach the decision to quit, Knox says.

But if the agent shows up to the meeting, and your heart is set on firing them, start by immediately saying, “The purpose of this meeting is to let you go,” and then explain the parting process. “Wish them well and keep it private,” Knox says. “Don’t make it a spectacle in front of other agents.”

But if you want to give the agent one last chance, ask him or her to evaluate their performance, what has been working, what needs improvement, and whether they want to continue in the business. If they do, ask the agent’s permission to set them up on a 30-day plan, and set reasonable goals to be met by the deadline. “It has to be measured on specific measurable behaviors,” Knox says, such as assuming prospecting activities and field work, participating in office meetings, attending training sessions, shadowing an agent, farming his or her market, and more. Schedule regular follow-up meetings each week. An accountability plan can be exactly what the agent needs. 

Then there are the agents who produce but have personalities that damage the office culture. “People must know the consequences of their actions,” says Knox. “Sometimes you have to let them go, and that’s the hardest firing to do.” 

Start by observing the person’s behaviors: Watch, ask questions, and listen to them talk. Write down behaviors that are causing trouble. Then set a meeting and give them some feedback to help them self-evaluate with questions like, “How do you feel about your interaction with other people in the office?” Knox says that broker-owners or office managers need to maintain harmony in the office and confront the issues they see. If a situation doesn’t improve, you have to do what’s best for the entire team. 


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