How much time do you spend working to ensure that your members reach the highest level of professionalism? We each devote hours, weeks, and months to this effort, not to mention significant financial and human resources. We approach professionalism through classes, online training, cartoons, videos, games, charades, and play-acting. We legislate, we regulate, and we prod, probe, cajole, humor, and threaten our members into educational “compliance.” But are we actually moving the professionalism needle? Are our members better prepared to represent their clients? Are our efforts being rewarded with lowered risk, fewer claims, or better insurance rates for our members? What would the landscape look like if we didn’t engage our members in professionalism awareness?
Each AE and staff specialist will answer these questions differently. In part, the answers will directly reflect the amount of effort put toward professionalism, but the answers will also reflect how personally vested we become to reaching a positive outcome as a result of our efforts. Making a personal investment is critical to doing a great job for our members, but it is also dangerous. When we get too personally invested in an outcome, for example, we often lose sight of the true value of our efforts to our members.
Unfortunately, our efforts are not always directly proportional to the value that members put on those efforts. This is the value question with which we must grapple in order to truly serve our members: How do we show them the value of professionalism? This value equation must be applied to each and every service we provide—tangible and intangible, including professionalism.
I am fully convinced that we have the most difficult (and rewarding) job imaginable. Members are not generic or of one thought. What one wants, another will find objectionable. What one finds of benefit, another will believe is “leveling the playing field.” Consolidations, shared services, and administrative efficiencies should be acceptable to all members, but fear of losing control means that even this concept is up for grabs in the brokerage community.
So what are we to do as a community of professionals? Well, drinking wine in significant amounts comes immediately to mind; but seriously, I find communicating with peers, talking through issues, having a few laughs amid more than a few tears, brainstorming, creating, and planning are not only professionally beneficial but personally rewarding. It is an investment in our own professional development.
We must be willing to challenge each other, challenge the status quo, challenge traditional thoughts, and challenge our beliefs about the value of services to our members.
In order to move the needle for our members on professionalism, we must first be able to move the needle for ourselves.
Andrea Bushnell, 2014 Chair, AE Committee
North Carolina Assocation of REALTORS®.
Contact her at 336-808-4222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.