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How to Grow Great AEs

Mentoring, education, and a sense of purpose matter to younger AEs.

Attracting younger generations to volunteer at your association can be difficult, but harder still may be attracting young professionals to work there. How can you entice talented young people to your organization and encourage them to pursue a career in REALTOR® association management?

Value character over experience

Although many successful REALTOR® association CEOs rise through the ranks, AEs come from diverse backgrounds. In fact, their previous jobs vary widely, according to a REALTOR® AE magazine survey of AEs conducted in December.

Many AEs are former real estate professionals—either practitioners or brokerage office managers—but survey responses also included paralegal, retail manager, and CFO for a large manufacturing firm. This shows that understanding real estate isn’t always a necessity for a new AE.

Being able to manage business processes and people, however, is a sought-after skill, the survey found. Most survey respondents (57 percent) said they had management or supervisory jobs before becoming a REALTOR® AE; 24 percent had executive or business-owner level positions; and 14 percent had administrative or ­entry-level jobs before to becoming an AE.

Highlight continuing education

AEs and association staff appreciate opportunities to participate in professional development education and events. The retention rate is more than two-thirds higher at companies where employees felt the training opportunities were excellent, according to a Louis Harris and Associates poll.

Professional development opportunities for REALTOR® AEs and staff abound. Not only are there national courses (both online and live), there are designation programs, annual conferences, and usually state-level training, as well. Many associations make NAR’s association management online courses required for all staff members.

Mentor and guide younger professionals

Studies show that younger professionals prefer to learn from coaches and mentoring. “Mentoring programs can be particularly effective at retaining millennials and also help to relieve tensions between generations,” according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report “Millennials at Work, Reshaping the Workplace.”

NAR offers a formal mentor-matching program for new AEs. The main topics in which younger AEs request guidance from their mentors, according to RAE survey respondents, were career development, advice for how to handle difficult directors or officers, and specific program ideas, such as themes for successful REALTOR® Political Action Committee fundraising events.

NAR’s AE Young Professionals Network advisory board, which was established in 2014 to encourage and promote involvement, volunteer leadership opportunities, and career development among young associa­tion staff professionals at all levels of the REALTOR® association, is now a formal NAR advisory board.

Promote the core values

Younger professionals want to do something that feels worthwhile, according to the PwC report; they take into account the values of a company when considering a job, and they are motivated by more than money. A REALTOR® association can attract and retain younger workers by showcasing its community involvement, charity donations, advocacy for the rights of home owners and small-business owners, and programs such as the REALTORS® Relief Fund and the Good Neighbor Awards.

Honor and feature successes

In 2014, NAR established the Leaders of Tomorrow Young Professionals Award to recognize younger AEs who have fostered greater involvement and increased professionalism among their peers and members.

One of the strongest millennial traits is that they welcome and expect praise for a job well done along with detailed, regular feedback, according to the PwC study. Taking the time to support and recognize younger employees will make them feel valued, so they are more likely to stay and advance at your association.

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