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Kathleen Black: “Opportunities”

I suggest to always give feedback face-to-face, whether that means in person or over Zoom. Too many things can get misconstrued over email or text, and you do not want your team members to take your feedback the wrong way. As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a […]

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I suggest to always give feedback face-to-face, whether that means in person or over Zoom. Too many things can get misconstrued over email or text, and you do not want your team members to take your feedback the wrong way.


As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a remote team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathleen Black.

Kathleen Black is one of North America’s leading team coaches and trainers, delivering her proven success techniques to agents and teams around the world. That growth is worth billions in additional sales volume annually across her client network with 80% of her clients being national top 1% producers. Kathleen, the best-selling author of “The Top 1% Life”, will help you to expand your business, at a fraction of the time and cost, using the tried, tested, and true “KBCC Ultimate Expansion Strategy” that has powered her client growth into the most efficient, productive, and profitable teams in the world, powered by performance cultures.

The success of KBCC centers around integrity, honesty, and results-driven measures, the very things that represent Kathleen. Kathleen has been named twice Top 100 Elite Women Driving the Future of Real Estate by REP Magazine and Top 20 Emerging Leaders by T3 Sixty’s Swanepoel Report. She was recognized within the top 1% of Realtors in the Toronto Real Estate Board, has ten plus years, over 20,000 hours personally, of agent development experience, and hundreds of teams attribute their growth and success to Kathleen’s leadership.

Kathleen is also the driving-force behind the Ultimate Team Summit, the largest team specific Real Estate summit in North America and the Ultimate Mastermind Series of events, including the 100 Deal + Ultimate Mastermind. Recently recognized as a Global Leader Making the World a Better Place by the Women’s Economic Forum.

Kathleen lives in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada with her two free spirited, independent, and very loved children Ethan and Ella, and their cat Ethel.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?

Beginning my career as a RE/MAX Real Estate Agent and working my way to being recognized within the top 1% of Realtors in both the Durham Region and on the Toronto Real Estate Board, many would agree that this level of success is the pinnacle achievement amongst their peers; but for me it was only the beginning.

Identifying the need, I set out to work on further developing the systems and platform of educational programs and coaching methods to which I attributed her own professional and personal success.

With the launch of KBCC in 2015 and building upon my 10+ years of Team and Agent development and guidance, hundreds of teams (80% of which are top 1% producers) have attributed their growth and success to my integrity, honesty and results driven leadership directly or through one of my coaching programs.

I was selling real estate as a busy single mom of two children and I had done a lot of content and systems development with a look to creating better work life balance.

The team I worked with was creating a coaching company and I had a background in psychology, so it just seemed like a natural fit to try to become involved.

That coaching company found itself in some challenging territory in its early days and there were differing opinions within the ownership as to how it should be resolved.

This ultimately resulted in the departure of the director of coaching and I was given the opportunity to step into that role within 18 months of the company going live. I had been a coach for just under one year at that point.

It was really a chain of complicated events that led to a great opportunity for me.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Every single time someone has tried to harm my career or damage my business, it has always led us to better opportunities.

When I thought I was going to lose my first coaching business, it actually led to working with higher caliber people, which further expanded the business.

The interesting thing in my journey has been that at the beginning of my career as a coach, I never had the support of the big Real Estate boards, or conferences and ironically, it drove me to create and hold my own events without relying on other people.

In the end it actually gave me an edge, because I didn’t have to rely on support that other people were getting. Even though it was more difficult to get there, it made me and my company stronger in the end.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

An example that I give often is I used to mentor, coach and train while I was relatively new to selling, so I often had someone shadowing me.

I ended up realizing a couple of years into it when I left a buyer presentation, which I would sign 98 per cent of, with one of my mentees, when she told me that she had seen me present my buyer consultations many times, and that she had learned so much, but the logo on the powerpoint said ‘Your Team Name Here”.

I didn’t even realize that for two years I had been using my coaching companies version of my buyer consultation and it didn’t even have our team logo on it, and yet I was still signing 98 per cent of all consultations I sat down in front of and attended.

When building a business it’s really easy to say you need the perfect brand, but in reality what you need are the clients.

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees to thrive and avoid burnout?

Get Strategic

If you start out strategically, with a strategic model, you will consider future needs for more time, relief, or somebody who can oversee parts of your business as you grow.

A strategic model will give you clarity and strategy. Once you get those two components, you need to be able to take your existing business to create a business structured to grow.

A strong strategic model will allow you to reinvest in the business in the right places to offer the top client experience to the public, while also reinvesting in your business platform.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Some companies have many years of experience with managing a remote team. Others have just started this, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you tell us how many years of experience you have managing remote teams?

Ever since Kathleen Black Coaching and Consulting Inc., began, we have been half office based, and half remote.

Our coaches have always worked remotely, and our internal staff has always worked in the traditional office setting.

After COVID-19 hit us, we began working remotely in March, and have been fully remote ever since.

Managing a team remotely can be very different than managing a team that is in front of you. Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding managing a remote team? Can you give a story or example for each?

Not Knowing Where You’re Going

To run your real estate team, you need a map. You need to know where you’re going in order to stay in sync with your team, hit deadlines, and reach your goals.

Being Efficient

The transition to remote is new and scary. You need tools now, in order to continuously pivot your business.

Scarcity

Right now things seem light and scarce, it seems that opportunities are no longer floating their ways into our inboxes, or phones.

Ego, scarcity and dominance are all related. In order to fix this, you need to be able to pivot from this mindset into a collective, collaborative voice aligned in common good.

Overwhelm

Hearing about all the ways you should be optimizing your business given the free time you have right now can lead to a path of beating yourself up. You sit and think about every single thing you need to do for your business and suddenly your to-do list has 26 items on it. You have over-thought every single step and now everything seems impossible. You are in the “overwhelm” zone. The “overwhelm” is an easy place to fall in and difficult to get out of.

Accountability

As a team leader, an accountability system is the only way you’re going to be able to remove yourself from micromanaging your business and instead, actually focus on growing your business.

Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges?

Vision

Vision, you need to know where you’re going. What is that top 1 percent life, what is that top 1 percent team, what do those look like to you?

That’s going to give you depth. The number one stressor for team leaders is people management. If you have a vision of the business you want to have in the coming years, you can step into the reality that the key players might change, you need to make decisions based on where you’re going not based on where you’re at.

Efficiency

Efficiency. We believe in having an approach that works before we invest a ton of money into lead generation or marketing. If an agent were to join your team, and they were converting at the same percentages you were for a step in the client process, would you recruit them?

Would it be enough for you to invest money into that agent, if they were performing the same as you are.

This is an important awareness to have, because when you have team members come on, you want them to have the exact same eyes. These are our minimum standards and the guidelines to how you’ll be efficient.

Opportunities

Opportunities: Lead Generation and Marketing. We need to be in tune with the opportunities that are coming into the business, the source of business, what our top sources are and whether we need to expand them.

We need to be aware of checking in on the things we’re testing, to ensure that they’re working properly, and to not be afraid to cut things, but make sure you’re getting insight into how long you need before you know something is working or not.

Leverage

Leverage. Do I know what I’m great at, and do I know the right profiles and the right expertise that I need in the other areas of my business?

Am I always aware of the next steps for my business, and how I’m going to get there?

Who’s the next hire you’ll have and are you adjusting your systems and processes to include them in it?

Leverage is very important because if you can take some things off of your plate, it is very valuable to the business overall.

Data

Data. This includes tracking to target training, it includes multipliers, to know which business is coming from where and how much it’s costing you to create an appointment or deal.

What are your budgets, profits and losses? This allows you to be more agile and adaptable quickly.

You need to track in order to know how to spend your money, and stay up to date on how your business is getting and doing business.

All of these different steps rely on strong systems and the protocols that support them.

In my experience, one of the trickiest parts of managing a remote team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote. Can you give a few suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote employee?

If you are still working remotely, and can’t see your team members in person, you need to increase your use of modern technology that facilitates remote interactions, such as virtual presentations and video conference calls.

We all have the modern tools and knowledge at our disposal. It’s important now, more than ever, to use them, especially when communicating with your team. You need to nurture your relationships and ensure you can get as personal as possible without seeing each other face-to-face.

Try your best to give your feedback through zoom, so they’re able to read your facial expressions and body language, even remotely.

No matter how smart and skilled your team members are, if they lack confidence in the team or their work, they’ll always perform below their potential.

Building confidence requires real conversation, not recognition. It starts by understanding what’s really going on. It requires working a few levels below the obvious insecurity to understand what scares them.

Confidence stems from certainty in our approach and a trust in our abilities.

Start building confidence in your team members by mentoring them, delegate specific tasks to them that you know they need to work on, focus on their strengths, be supportive and let them know it’s okay to make mistakes.

The good news is that building confidence and competence go hand in hand. Confident team members are more likely to try new behaviors and approaches, which inspires creativity and equals more success.

Confident team members can access the elusive “flow state”, also known as being in the zone, is where they are able to perform better while more relaxed. They trust in their mastery of core skills, seek expansion, without undue stress. In flow state we are more productive, more creative, and less stressed, up to 500% more than out of flow state!

Can you specifically address how to give constructive feedback over email? How do you prevent the email from sounding too critical or harsh?

I suggest to always give feedback face-to-face, whether that means in person or over Zoom. Too many things can get misconstrued over email or text, and you do not want your team members to take your feedback the wrong way.

If you must communicate criticism over email,try to email them in the middle of the workday, instead of early in the morning or late at night, this will make the recipient less anxious.

Ease into the criticism with an introduction paragraph, celebrate the team members successes instead of tearing them down the minute they begin reading.

Then, deliver your feedback, and thank them for taking what you mentioned into consideration. Don’t forget to let them know they can follow-up with questions.

Can you share any suggestions for teams who are used to working together on location but are forced to work remotely due to the pandemic. Are there potential obstacles one should avoid with a team that is just getting used to working remotely?

It’s important now, more than ever, that you optimize your business and life, and stay focused on what you can control, during these trying times. It’s even more important to keep your team motivated and optimized, especially with the summer that follows.

What do you suggest can be done to create a healthy and empowering work culture with a team that is remote and not physically together?

A performance environment is an environment you design for your team, in order to increase performance and success in your agents.

It is vital to create, support, and nurture capability, leading to results for your business. Performance on a team is not optional, you need a team with strong sales skills and you need to be able to track their performance.

A team is like a house, the job and purpose of a strong team is to support and predict success.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Conscious living. I think people who are conscious about who they are, their values, and what they’re bringing to the world are typically better parents, better team members, better community supporters, better people. I find the ability to ‘do good’ is just more naturally present for people with a conscious mindset. If I can help people raise their consciousness and see their abilities and power, they will ultimately serve the world through their greater purpose with ease. If KBCC can have any influence on people leading themselves versus looking at others, that’s a win!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favourite life lesson quote is something that I’ve heard in my head since I was very young and that’s “You’re built to win”, and when you believe that, when things get hard, you’re going to lean in and really win or learn, so either way you learn.

Some of my most devastating losses in life and in business catapulted me forward ten times more than I could have ever gotten without them.

‘I was built to win”, allows me to see things in my favour as I’m working in a place of abundance and I’m trying to see myself in the world.

I’ll always try to be better because I want to do good here and I want to have the resources in order to be good.

I need a strong business in order to make the changes and impact I want to make for myself.

Thank you for these great insights!

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