Entrepreneurship · Leadership

How to Lead Powerful, Cohesive Teams & Do Away with Discordant Groups


Originally posted on ericahill.org.

Recently I was approached by a very talented young man who was growing a strong business in the real estate industry. He said he has observed others having difficulty in retaining both employees and agents on their teams and is determined to avoid the pitfalls of high turnover amongst his staff.

Those who wish to succeed at a high level will need to master the skills of hiring, training, leading and motivating people. And yes, there is an art to it! Let’s break it down.

First, let’s take a look at just what the defining difference is between groups and teams.  It’s no big secret that that the difference is found in sound leadership and business acumen.

So, how do companies hire teams instead of just incongruent groups of people?

A Faulty Hiring Process Sets Companies Up for Failure

Finding any old employee can be fairly easy to do. Without having learned the proper skills in spotting talent for a specific role, however, a person in charge of hiring will most likely make a bad hire. When that happens, people tend to blame the hiree, not the hirer. I have seen this literally hundreds of times.

But, guess what?

It is far more likely the person you hired is just fine.  The person who hired them, however, is not fine.  He/she may have just hired someone who isn’t actually the best fit for the position. So, sorry to say, it is the hirer’s fault.

As an employer, the responsibility to make a correct hire is on your shoulders. If it doesn’t work out, you need to look for your fingerprints on what went wrong. To take it a step further, by making a bad hire, you just did that person a tremendous disservice.

If you learn nothing else from this blog, remember this:

Hiring the right fit for a specific job
is the employer’s responsibility.
Got it?

Once you have truly learned the fine art of spotting and hiring job-specific talent, your next challenge will be to retain them. This is often where people struggle the most.

Locking in Teams Requires Leaders With These 2 Traits

Compensation is the obvious place to begin, when considering how to keep new hires. But, think about it; is compensation the most important component of long-term business relationships? No.

In my years of experience, it has become quite obvious that those whose businesses thrive retain employee relationships through a combination of:

  • Driven, compassionate, and loyal leadership and
  • Significant and meaningful growth opportunities.

This is not as complicated as it appears to be. Here’s my two cents as to why groups of hired employees never become well-led, motivated, and harmonious teams.

The leaders are not truly invested in their team members. They look at them as a means to an end instead of valuable humans who are entrusting the leader to help them achieve their professional goals.

I have observed successful teams and dysfunctional teams for a long time. Dysfunction comes from one of two places; self-serving leaders and/or ignorance. Don’t get me wrong. We are all naive and ignorant until we learn, but what sets the unknowing from the knowledgeable is the willingness to learn.

I have an amazing team here in L.A, because many of my team members have great and happy teams.  I think this is because we have well-established and caring leadership firmly in place.

If you, as a leader, are really invested in your team, you should easily be able to answer these questions:

  • Are your expectations clear and in writing?
  • Do your team members know exactly what your vision is?
  • Do your team members know (1) what part they play in your vision and (2) how being your team member helps them fulfill their own vision for themselves?
  • What are your team members’ income goals?
  • What are your team members’ strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is the path the leader has defined to help the team achieve their goals? And, over what period of time? Is it in writing?
  • What do you know about your team members outside of work? Do they have kids? Pets? Favorite sports or teams? What are their dreams for their futures?

Where you find leaders who have a deep understanding of the answers to the aforementioned questions, you will also find successful teams. Otherwise, they are groups of disconnected people. The difference is HUGE. People have to actually care about people.  Weirdly simple, right? One would think….


Unlock the Offer to Your First Management Position with This 1 Key Secret

Landing that first management position can be a hard task to accomplish. The competition can be tough and other candidates may have more qualifications than you do. It’s important to make yourself stand out from the crowd and prove that you have what it takes to not only be the manager that your employer is seeking but also a manager that is going to go above and beyond their expectations.

How can you make yourself stand out from the rest of the candidates? How can you prove that you have the management experience that your employer is looking for? The secret key to these questions is to volunteer your time with non-profit organizations. More specifically, volunteer to manage different tasks, events, or departments within the non-profit organization to gain more experience.

Volunteering for management positions will also show your drive to better yourself and gain experience outside of the company you are currently in. Higher-ups within your company will view this as a strength since you are going out of your way to increase your knowledge and skills about management on your own time.

There are many benefits to volunteering for non-profit organizations, especially in terms of your career. One of the main benefits is being able to expand your network among different professionals in different industries. This could give you the opportunity to speak with people already in management positions, so you can hear what they did to reach the position that you are seeking.

By volunteering for management positions in non-profits, you are able to learn new skills that management candidates need to have to show they are capable of the position. Hiring managers also report that they value volunteerism. In a survey done in 2012, 65% of hiring managers said that they find that volunteering is an important aspect to look at when selecting candidates for positions.

Above all, when you volunteer for management positions within non-profits, you are gaining experience that you did not have before. This can only help you proceed in the direction you want to go. You will gain the experience needed for the management position in the company you work for and be offering your services for a good cause.

Using this secret key will help you land that first management position and give you experience along the way. It will help you stand out from your peers within the company that are applying for the same position and give you the upper hand when your boss has to make his final decision.


How to Keep Relationships Professional without Seeming Disingenuous: Part Two

We’re back with part two of “How to Keep Relationships Professional without Seeming Disingenuous!”

In part one, we discussed three out of six topics that are safe for you to discuss with people in a professional setting, as well as how to bring them up to keep things professional and not too personal.

In part two, we discuss another three topics that are safe, as well as topics to avoid unless you absolutely must discuss them for business purposes.

So, let’s dive right in:

4) Travel

DO Say:

  • Where have you traveled for business?
  • Where have you traveled for pleasure?
  • Where do you plan to travel for business?
  • Where do you plan to travel for pleasure?
  • What is the best place you ever traveled to and why?
  • What is the worst place you ever traveled to and why?
  • Do you have any travel advice?
  • Who do you like to travel with?

DON’T Say:

Have you ever traveled with someone you didn’t like?

  • Leave the negative talk off the table to keep things light, inclusive, and enjoyable for all involved in discussion.

What did it cost you to travel to “X”?

  • Leave personal spending out of conversation. That is too personal and can cause a professional conversation to feel awkward.

5) Work

DO Say:

  • Where do you work?
  • What originally got you into your field of work?
  • What do you foresee being the future of your industry?
  • Do you volunteer?
  • Where do you volunteer?
  • What do you foresee being potential solutions to the causes you volunteer for?

DON’T Say:

Do you like your job/industry? Do you like where you volunteer?

  • This can cause the person to either feel stuck or lie if he/she does not like his/her job, industry, or current volunteer experience. This question would broach the subject of their feelings about their company, boss, co-workers, and even future plans to leave or join a company. Depending who is involved in the conversation, rumors could start to spread because of his/her answer to your question. There is no winning in this conversation for anyone.

6) Hobbies

DO Say:

  • What are some of your hobbies? Tell me about them.
  • How long have you been doing “X” hobby?
  • How were you originally introduced to “X?” Why did you decide to pick it up?
  • Do you know of any resources I could check out if I’m interested in learning about your hobby?
  • Who are some of the people you follow who are really good at your hobby?
  • Do you compete in your hobby?

DON’T Say:

Are you good at your hobby?

  • Even if the person is Tiger Woods in golf or Andre Agassi in tennis, this is an uncomfortable question for anyone. If they answer “yes,” they come across as arrogant. If they say “no,” it leaves the conversation with nowhere to go. Instead, ask, “Do you compete in your hobby?”

Can you teach me how to do this hobby?

  • This question could leave a person feeling pressured to hang out with you outside of work and to come up with a curriculum to teach you something they (1) may not want to do and (2) may not have time to do. How would that person respond is they did not want to do so? This puts them on the spot. This can be easily avoided by simply leaving this question alone. Let others ask you first if you want to get together outside of work. This makes things easier for you and has you not crossing any people’s boundaries unknowingly.


Do not discuss anything controversial even if it accidentally comes up in conversation. Sure, are there certain topics of conversation listed below that have to be brought up in certain industries? Absolutely. However, if these topics of conversation come up as just another topic of conversation and add no professional value, avoid them at all costs. This is not an exhaustive list, but it does cover many prominent discussion topics to avoid:

  • Personal finances,
  • Spirituality,
  • Sexual orientation,
  • Politics,
  • Race and/or ethnicity,
  • Personal grudges held against people/companies/organizations,
  • Past criminal record and/or illegal actions,
  • Personal health and/or medication,
  • Issues in relationships

Is there anything I missed? Do you disagree with these points? Tweet me @EricaHill_KW to continue the conversation!


How to Keep Relationships Professional without Seeming Disingenuous: Part One

In any professional setting, it is important to show that you are not only willing to deal with a person in business, but you are also a caring person who is genuine about wanting to build a lasting business relationship. In order to do so, I describe herein six topics of conversation to include in your conversations, when getting to know one another personally, and nine topics of conversation to avoid unless needed for business purposes.


1) Names

DO Say:

I like your name. Where did it come from?

  • This allows them to divulge as much or as little as they feel comfortable with, leaving you in the clear for not prying too much, but also making you come across as genuinely interested in them as a person, not just a business-conducting robot whom you want a business card from.

DON’T Say:

That’s a peculiar name!

  • This can come across as offensive and sheltered, as this could indicate that you probably do not work with diverse populations enough to value different names.

2) Home

DO Say:

What town do you live in? Do you like that town?

  • This keeps the topic of conversation deep enough that you genuinely want to learn about them, but not too deep, to where they feel like you are reaching for information about their living situation, which could be negative and private. This also keeps the conversation inclusive, because anyone listening could share their opinion or experience with mentioned cities. Most professional relationships do not involve people going over to one another’s private homes, and talking about their private homes could leave people wondering what to say to move the conversation forward.

What city did you grow up in? Do you like that city?

  • This keep conversation away from their particular homes and living situations growing up, which, for all you know, could have been an orphanage.

DON’T Say:

What is your current living situation like?

  • This question can make it seem like you are prying into their personal lives.

Do you like your current home?

  • This could get them talking about how they don’t like where they live, and they may not want to discuss that in a professional setting, leaving them feeling uncomfortable and scrambling for words.

3) Family

DO Say:

Tell me about your family.

  • By saying this statement, instead of asking a question, you are communicating that you know loved ones are important to anyone, and you’d love to hear about people they love, but it also allows them to disclose as much or as little information as they want.

DON’T Say:

Don’t ask questions about their families.

  • This could bring up very personal topics of conversation that you should not try to inquire about in a professional relationship. For example, even simply asking someone with a wedding ring on about their “partner,” could open up a door to a conversation they don’t want to have. If a person has not disclosed his/her sexual orientation before, for example, he/she may feel pressured to do so with this question.

Come back in a couple weeks for part two of “How to Keep Relationships Professional without Seeming Disingenuous,” where we’ll discuss three more “safe” topics, and nine “do not touch” topics!


How to Help Your Employees Do Their Best Work

This blog was originally posted on here: Erica Hill, Keller Williams, Women and Leadership Website

There are innumerable things one can do to encourage one’s team to greater success. Each employee is unique and needs different things from his/her boss, but these four action points can really make a massive difference for all of them no matter who they are.

1) Be positive.

When employees are doing something inaccurately, use the moment to be positive and supportive. Positive reinforcement, according to Dr. Christopher L. Heffner of AllPsych: Psych Central’s Virtual Psychology Classroom, is like, “adding something in order to increase a response. For example,… adding praise will increase the chances of your,” employee doing something the first time you ask him/her to change his/her behavior.

2) Give public, verbal reinforcement.

Giving compliments to someone are one thing. Giving compliments to someone in front of others is another. Doing the latter of the two not only makes the employee feel good about their work, it makes them feel good about who they are. This type of praise can lead to further praise by co-workers and subordinates. Your employees will almost always have a positive response to this and think more highly of you as their “higher-up” when it is not something confidential about them that you are publicizing.

3) Make company policies clear.

When company policies are not made clear, employees can get themselves into a lot of trouble and cause the company a lot of heartache. This can come in the form of an employee not using the correct chain of command to get approval for certain actions. For example, if during a company-wide meeting an executive in the company, Bob, says to everyone to reach out to him personally to discuss ways to improve sales within the company, but you, as their manager, know the employees on your team should go to you first to vet their ideas before going to Bob, it is your duty to do something about it. Otherwise, their actions will be your fault. So, it is not only your duty as the manager to go to your employees and tell them the correct chain of command to use, it is also your responsibility to inform Bob of the confusion so he can clarify what he meant to the company. Having various instructions from various people within a company leads employees to confusion. Subsequently, they could do all types of things they shouldn’t. Let them know that coming to you first is always the procedure for ideas they have and, furthermore, they should not go to other people in the company first before you unless it has to do with HR.

4) Award their good work.

Going along with point number two, employees thrive in environments where their work is appreciated and specifically noticed. Use the tried and true “Employee of the Month” award as one way to address this need. Instead of just offering the award, having the company clap, and moving on, keep a list of good work done by each person on your team each month. At the end of each month, send each respective employee’s list to each employee for his/her own enjoyment. This will encourage them to do even better work. Share the list you made for the employee who won Employee of the Month with everyone in the company during the award ceremony. This will not only make them feel amazing and cared for by their company, it will also encourage other employees to do work well enough to win the award and receive the same type of publicized praise.

This is a great place to start. If you are looking to go above and beyond for your employees, offer annual awards, as well, for things such like the employee with the highest amount of revenue earned for the company that year.

Implementing these four habits will definitely put your employees and you on the path of greater and greater success. You can’t go wrong with these!


How to Use Implicit Biases to Get What You Want, Including a Higher Pay Rate

This blog was originally posted on here: Erica Hill, Keller Williams

Do you know what an implicit bias is? An implicit bias is a judgement you, yes you, hold against other people without even thinking about or knowing it. People ruthlessly judge each other all the time with these implicit biases. It comes quite naturally to human beings, sadly.

Implicit Biases: Identifying the Gravity of the Situation

If you don’t believe me that we all do this every single day, listen to the wise words of Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, professors at Harvard University and the University of Washington, respectively.

Elizabeth R. Thornton of Psychology Today reveals the staggering realities of these implicit biases, quoting Banaji and Greenwald:

“An ongoing study of implicit bias—using the Implicit Association Test (IAT)—is being conducted… Data from the first 4.5 million tests revealed that: ‘Implicit biases are pervasive. For example, 80% of respondents show implicit negativity toward the elderly compared to the young; 75-80% of self-identified whites and Asians show an implicit preference for racial white over black.’”

This is incredibly unsettling.

They go on to say, “‘Implicit biases predict behavior. From simple acts of friendliness and inclusion to more consequential acts, such as the evaluation of work quality.’”

Cheryl Conner of Forbes drives home Banaji’s and Greenwald’s points. “According to some studies, dress doesn’t influence higher income for women as much as it helps to ensure security in their current roles. Forbes writer Laura Sinberg warns that dressing ‘too sexy’ can make a woman seem less competent.”

You heard it themselves.

Why Are You Telling Me All of This? This is Depressing…

People judge your work with these biases every day. So, I say, let’s make lemonade out of these mean lemons. I’m sure at some point or another, you have been robbed of a pay increase because of these biases.

You can have different approaches to this impossible situation, which may or may not result in a pay raise, but here are some of the main responses people can have:

1) Positive Manipulation: You might think, “I’ll use people’s biases against them to get what I want–a higher pay rate.” If that is the case, you’ll want to follow these nine guidelines for women, in particular:

  • Show clothes, not skin,
  • Wear fitting shoes that cover your feet,
  • Wear clean clothes,
  • Iron your clothes,
  • Wear fitting clothing, not too loose, not too tight,
  • Wear a step above the dress code,
  • Wear modest jewelry and makeup,
  • Cover your legs if you’re not wearing a skirt, and
  • Dress modestly.

2) Pessimism: Your thoughts might be, “The status quo will never change. People are hopeless. I must succumb, or I’ll be trampled over.”

3) Optimism: Your thoughts might be, “I’ll make the best of this situation, choosing to do and not do what I personally feel comfortable with and have compassion for people with these culturally and socially ingrained biases.

4) Activism: Your thoughts might be, “I understand what these implicit biases do, and I am going to be a driving force in seeing them change!”

Erica Hill, Keller Williams: Women & Presentation: How Your Looks Affect Your Pay

So, what will your response be? Tweet me your choice with hashtags: #PositiveManipulation, #pessimism, #optimism, #activism, or #twist for the ultimate twist (share a different reaction you thought of!)!

Entrepreneurship · Leadership

Ignoring These 4 Things? You Might as Well Say Goodbye to Your Employees

This blog was originally posted on my website: Erica Hill, Keller Williams

Is your company like a library?

Libraries have books flying off the shelves into different eager readers’ hands daily when successful. Companies can be exactly like that with employees, except it is a sign of failure. These companies have new hires leave in a hurry shortly thereafter to be embraced by another welcoming company’s arms.

“What is going on?” a CEO might think. “How do we keep our employees after they sign the dotted line?”

1) Extend Genuine Compassion

The lack of genuine compassion from higher-ups and the rest of the employees is one of the primary reasons why employees leave. Common complaints in the workplace might ring true in companies with minute levels of genuine compassion.

People might say…

  • I wish my boss understood me.
  • The interviewer said the company culture was passionate about what they do, but these people don’t seem to care at all.
  • I just took this job, because I needed the money.

People might ask…

  • Why did they have to yell?
  • Why don’t they care about my opinion?
  • Do they even care about my work-life balance?
  • This company is a mess. Do they even know what they are doing? Do I even want to begin to help fix this?
  • Why is employee morale so low?

If you care about your company at all, whether you are in management or not, then you’re going to want to make sure that the key players on the management team know what’s going on so that they can at least address it. That is the first take away here.

If you’re company is losing employees,
especially skilled and experienced ones,
then you need to show them first that you not only
hear their concerns,
but you also
mirror their concerns.

Remember: If you aren’t genuine, they will know. Approximately 80% of communication is shown through body language. Body language is near impossible to manipulate to the degree you may want to manipulate it. Be honest. Increase your emotional intelligence. This will bring you to step two.

2) Show Thoughtful Care

After you show your employees that you hear and mirror their concerns, you want to do these three things:

  • Sift through each concern,
  • Apologize where apologies are due, and
  • Provide a custom, permanent solution with SMART goals.

This will immediately boost employee morale and confidence. These employees will see that you are stepping further and further away from sheer lip-service. Without implementing this final step, you have completely wasted your co-workers and your own time.

3) Implement Immediate Action

Once you have created SMART goals to meet the concerns of your employees, do the following three things to seal the deal.

  • Delegate specific tasks to the appropriate persons to complete these goals, and
  • Follow through, and then,
  • Ask those impacted for their honest feedback.

4) See the Lasting Effects

It is really that simple. Whenever there are new problems or complaints, start over at step one. Your employees will not only respect and admire you for changing the game, they will also stop complaining and may even help you solve the issues at hand.

This will immediately improve employee morale.

They will trust your word, open up to you, offer their profound industry insights, seek your counsel, vouch for you, speak well of the company, and bear the company name proudly. If that wasn’t enough, it will encourage them to be more mindful of ethical practice in the office, helping your company to avoid exponential amounts of money on legal battles. What don’t you have to gain from implementing these four steps? Start following them today!