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Last week I explained how we see the world through the lens of our own mindset, experiences, and expectations.  The problem is that we get so absorbed by our own view of the world, we start projecting that view onto other people.  While it might be nice if other people shared our desires and viewpoint, they very often do not. Our ego tells us that they do, or maybe it is simply a lack of patience and empathy, in any case we make the often unconscious assumption that other people see the world the way we do. That they want the same things we want and chase the same things that we chase.   We do this in both our personal and professional relationships, however, this lesson never really started to hit home with me until I started a company of my own (Amherst Madison).   

I have always found it a somewhat bizarre dichotomy that on one hand we all want to believe that we are completely unique – special butterflies of which there is no other duplicate or match on planet Earth – then, when it comes time to incentivize, motivate or teach other people, we take the approach that everyone is the same. We try to jam what we want down their throat until they don’t even remember what it is that they want. 

In the context of growing a real estate business or team, there are four specific areas I want to point out where projecting your desires onto other people can get you into trouble. Last week I talked about how this applies to hiring employees and working with vendors and partners. This week I’ll add two more cases.

1. Hiring

It is nearly impossible to hire (and therefore to scale) your business without the ability to see the world through the eyes of the people you are attempting to hire.  From structuring compensation packages to crafting accurate job descriptions to finding someone whose preferences align with your offering, all of it necessitates you being able to put yourself in their shoes and see what they truly need.  

The less accuracy you have here, the more turnover you will experience. Often times, and this is especially true in hiring, we don’t see the truth. We see what we want to see. 

World view also relates directly to expectations.  We all have unique expectations for ourselves as agents and business owners. Well, whenever I have had the same expectations for other people that I put on myself, I have lived to regret the results.  I’ve put expectations on people that they cannot possibly match. 

I’ve just been off base with people that I’ve hired from the very beginning on what their roles and objectives are.  Individuals have to be treated as individuals in their specific role.  That is pretty difficult to do if you are constantly pushing your personal expectations that you have for yourself onto them.  

Most entrepreneurs who are new at hiring struggle with this concept. Specifically, they tend to assume that the people they are hiring want the same things that they want: freedom, control over time, complete control over income, etc. Well, most of the time, those people don’t share the same values. They want security, they want belonging, they want predictability, they want freedom as well but their version of freedom doesn’t include panicked phone calls from clients at 7:00 AM on Saturday mornings. 

2. Managing and Incentivizing Staff

Recently I was having a conversation with a top producing agent who told me her plan to offer equity/ownership in her business as an additional incentive to her current operations manager.  I have had many conversations like this in my 10+ years of coaching top producing real estate agents. Business owners and entrepreneurs tend to assume that other people would also value the equity piece so that they can participate in upside gains. 

I asked her the following question in response: “why not just give her a bigger salary?” The agent stopped and stared at me saying, “I guess I never thought about it”.  I went on to encourage her to consider the needs of her operations manager and whether she might actually prefer the security and surety of a higher annual salary as opposed to the relatively risky and uncertain option of ownership.  Equity may give you the ability to participate in upside gains, it also exposes you to the risk of downside losses. 

The ownership piece would have been very attractive to the top producing agent/entrepreneur, but that does not mean the same offer would have suited the operations manager.  In fact, more often than not, the opposite is true.  If the admin was more attracted by risk and ownership than by a higher salary, they in all likelihood would not be an operations manager at all. They would be an agent or entrepreneur themselves. 

People who seek the dependability and security of an annual salary are motivated by very different things than those who are self-employed, own a company, or are compensated 100% on commission only.  Their priorities are security and dependable income, not entrepreneurial potential of higher income related to taking more risk.  Their overall mindset on life is almost certainly different from your own.  If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t be interested in working for you, they would be interested in you working for them.  They are wired differently, driven differently, and fulfilled by different things than you. 

They also value their sanity and personal life more than the risk takers. I am beginning to think they are onto something! hahaha!