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The Revolving Door


Some businesses, including a few real estate teams, are notorious for having a revolving door when it comes to staff. As an outsider, I am often privy to a little inside information, specifically about what is going on behind closed doors that is creating an environment where employees cannot thrive.

A candidate recently called me and said she’d been fired. She was completely in the dark as to why she had been terminated and was, not surprisingly, emotionally distraught. Dismissals are a traumatic experience. Viewed from the outside, there is a tendency to blame the candidate, assuming that they must be incompetent and therefore that’s why they were let go.

 But that’s not always the case!

Dismissals can frequently be traced back to an ineffective hiring process or disorganized and dysfunctional management. The real estate team that fired this young lady was the same team that had previously hired candidates based on whims and desires, rather than solid interviews and reference checks. They couldn’t be bothered with pesky things like job descriptions or well thought out interview questions, opting instead for a ‘chitchat’ type interview. This was also the same hiring manager who was never around to train the new staff or support the new hires in any way. This employer, who had an amazing record when it came to real estate sales, was quite the opposite when it came to hiring and managing their people.

There are a lot of reasons as to how a workplace can become toxic, creating a revolving door. Leaving aside some obvious examples, such as illegal activities, transactions and things like sexual harassment or assault, there are other less obvious but equally insidious contributors to a toxic workplace:

  • Overbearing managers and obnoxious coworkers—micromanaging bosses and coworkers who spend more time gossipping or complaining than working are just the tip of the iceberg. Typically, bad or intimidating behaviour trickles down from the top: if management is toxic, the whole environment will be more or less infested.
  • Lack of appreciation or downright unfairness—when a coworker with less seniority and experience is given the plum assignments, while you are doing twice the work for the same pay; when a coworker takes credit for work that you did; when managers blame everyone but themselves when things go wrong. These are just a few ways that an underappreciated staff person can see their way clear to leaving!

Of course, you can try and confront some of these situations but in a small office environment, there is often nowhere to go with your concerns. There is no HR department to help you! If your intention is to try and improve things, then the best way to move forward is to always have a positive solution for every issue. For example, for the coworker who stands in your cubicle jawing for an hour each morning, wasting your work time, you might want to ask them if they can help you to meet your work deadlines by taking on this or that task. They’ll get the message and save face in the process. Or just take the honest approach: tell them that you’ll be happy to chat later, but for the time being, you have a few deadlines to meet and need to get to them!

When dealing with a business owner or the management team who are creating the toxic environment however, sometimes confrontation is best left to someone else who is outside of the organization. Our focus at AGENTC, when working with realtors or businesses with the reputation of the revolving door, is to offer constructive direction as to what needs to be done in order to increase employee retention. We help improve their hiring and assessment process. We aim to clarify job expectations. We look for employees that will balance the realtors’ strengths and weaknesses. The objective is never to blame the realtor and make them appear monstrous but to find the balance that allows their business to grow while making sure their employees are happy.

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