Monday, October 10, 2011

The Keys to Building a Great Team: What to Consider Before You Hire

By Rhonda Savage

Sarah is the manager of a busy department store. In her time as manager, she’s worked hard to develop strategies to properly train employees on the store policies and standards, but lately she’s found that she is unhappy with her team members. Despite proper training and a complete understanding of their job descriptions, her employees aren’t working well together and she is finding it difficult to manage them properly, resulting in low morale and ultimately affecting performance.

Where did Sarah go wrong? How can she ensure that she not only hires good employees, but also employees who work well together? The important thing to keep in mind about building a team is that you don’t hire a team as a whole, you hire the individual.

The next time you are looking to hire new staff members, consider these techniques to ensure you not only build a team, but also that you build a great team:

  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses. Build and increase teamwork by hiring others whose strengths shore up your weaknesses. For example, if your strength is that you are direct, decisive and goal-oriented, but your weakness is that you don’t always pay attention to detail, surround yourself with detail-oriented people.
  • Recognize the needs of your team. What team members need to feel good about their work place is typically four things. These four areas of concern are critical to staff retention. In a survey of more than a thousand businesses, these four areas are ranked by level of importance with number one being the most important to your team member.
    1. Praise and Appreciation: This should be timely, specific, and sincere praise, not artificial flattery or insincerity. Praise publicly; correct privately. The U.S. Gallop poll cited 71 percent of American workers were clock punchers. The most common reason noted as to why the employee felt that way: Lack of praise or appreciation for a job done well! Do be careful, however, of the perception of favoritism. Favoritism, whether real or imagined, will drive the morale of the business down. When morale goes down, production drops! Look for the good in everyone rather than singling out one person.
    2. Belonging to a close-knit team: Facilitate great communication and involvement of the team through regular meetings. Make certain all employees hear about important information through various methods: Email, meetings, posted information and through the chain of command.
    3. Responsibility and feeling like their voice matters: Ask for their help! Give them increasing levels of responsibility and training. Involve them in the decision-making process.
    4. Money and Benefits: Money and benefits are important, but workers today also want fast-paced, energetic, interesting work and to feel that their efforts matter! If you’re slow, use your down time wisely for training, working on the facility or marketing. It’s interesting: if the work place is slow, the workers and boss work slower! If we have more time, we take more time. Unfortunately, when you’re slow, gossip goes up and morale goes down. Be clear about duties during “down times.” There should never be a reason to stand around and gossip.
  • Ask for honest feedback from your current employees to help you identify the roles new staff members should fill. Consider asking the following questions:
  1. If this were your company, what would you do to increase our productivity and decrease our overhead?
  2. What skills, ability, or training can I give you to better enable you to do your job?
  3. If this were your business, what kind of person (skills and strengths) do you think we might hire that would help us grow the business?
  4. If you could improve one thing about the communication within our team, what would it be?
  5. What do I do, or what does your supervisor do, that wastes your time or the time of the customer?
  6. What do you like the best about your job?
  7. What do you like the least about your job?

Hiring well is one of the most difficult jobs of a leader and hiring decisions have a huge impact on employee morale, performance and the overall work environment. Identifying and understanding the needs of your employees will help you build a productive and motivated team.


Dr. Rhonda Savage is an internationally acclaimed speaker and CEO for a well-known practice management and consulting business. She is a noted motivational speaker on leadership, women's issues and communication. Savage is also co-author of “Bushido Business: The Fine Art of the Modern Professional” with Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy & Stephen M. R. Covey. For more information on her speaking, visit or e-mail

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Top 10 reasons to hire a commercial real estate broker

Do you really need a broker the next time you renew your lease?
Perhaps you consider yourself a good negotiator. Maybe you’re completely happy where you are and have a good relationship with your landlord. So what can a broker do for you? In a word — plenty. The golden rule of real estate negotiation is: “Leverage = Time + Options.”
Unless you have unlimited time and are fully aware of every single opportunity in your market, you’re likely going to leave considerable cost savings on the table if you negotiate on your own. Here are 10 reasons why working with a broker makes good business sense:
  1. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
    For their services, brokers receive a fee which is paid by the landlord, not the tenant. It costs you nothing to use a broker. Landlords will sometimes offer to pass the amount of the fee along to the tenant if they represent themselves. In reality, even if you do receive the brokerage fee “on paper,” you’ll pay for it in other ways. According to industry research, a good broker will save an average of five times the cost of their fee.
  2. Brokers are good at what they do
    Brokers are immersed in the market all day, every day. It is their full-time job and core talent. They have the research and negotiating skills to succeed, and deep, real-time market knowledge.
  3. Brokers have access to better information
    Even if someone in your organization has handled transactions, they will not have access to the up-to-the-minute market intelligence of a working broker. Brokers are connected to information that provides you the best options at any given time. Even if you’re not considering moving, this “ammunition” increases your leverage in negotiating with your landlord.
  4. Brokers save you time
    Why should you spend time researching the market and negotiating with your landlord when a broker will do it all for you? Engaging a broker allows you to spend your time on what you do best.
  5. Your process shifts from reactive to proactive
    Tenants typically don’t think much about their leases until renewal time. Brokers think about leases, market trends and opportunities every day. Establishing a relationship with a broker can elevate your process to a proactive mode that anticipates opportunities in advance.
  6. Not using a broker tips your hand to the landlord
    Landlords typically believe that satisfied tenants will renew and accept their increase. Not using a broker suggests to your landlord that you don’t plan to move and that you won’t drive a hard bargain. Using a broker will “keep them guessing” and compel them to make their best offer to encourage you to stay.
  7. Using a broker reflects the good business practice of outsourcing for non-core services
    Organizations regularly outsource for specialized skills outside of their core capabilities such as accounting or legal counsel. Real estate is typically the second- or third-largest expense on operational balance sheets. With so much at stake, it pays to outsource to a specialist.
  8. A major brokerage firm gives you one-stop service for all locations
    A strong brokerage firm operating in multiple markets can serve you from a single point of contact, eliminating the hassle of finding a good broker in every location where you need one. The best brokerage firms will provide multi-city tenants with an account manager who coordinates with local experts in each market.
  9. Brokerage firms accumulate and share the benefits of experience
    Regardless of the scope of your portfolio, major brokerage firms transfer collective insights and lessons learned into standard operating procedures for every new assignment. Even the smallest, most seemingly routine lease negotiations can benefit from this.
  10. A brokerage firm is more capable for specialized needs
    Perhaps you wish to investigate special opportunities such as build-to-suit facilities or “green” upgrades. A full-service brokerage firm has staff that focuses on these and other areas like lease administration and project-management to help you build out a leased space to suit your needs.

Torrey Littlejohn is a Vice President in the Dallas office of Jones Lang LaSalle, a global commercial real estate brokerage firm. She specializes in assisting users of office and industrial space.