To grow your property business in 2018 and beyond, you need a winning team at your side. You need reservation agents who can ask the right questions, nurture the right leads, and consistently hit their numbers week after week.
But what happens when your agents aren’t hitting the aggressive goals you need them to hit in order to sustain your business, serve your customers, and boost profits each month? How do you approach communicating with your team, getting to the root of problem, and developing actionable solutions that can get people back on track?
Here are 7 ideas that you can turn to when your team isn’t performing at the level that you expect and need them to perform at:
1. Ask Questions
The first thing you need to do when you learn that one of your agents isn’t hitting his or her goals is to start asking questions. To alleviate the problem, you need to find out what’s preventing your employee from being effective and successful in their role. Communication is key, and as a manager, it’s your job to facilitate and encourage open and honest conversations with your team members.
Here is a list of questions from which you can pull when talking to your agents about their performance:
- Do you understand what your goals are?
- Do you understand what my expectations are?
- Is there something specific preventing you from meeting your goals?
- What challenges have you been experiencing in your role, and how can I help?
- Do you feel like you understand what your role is and what you need to do to be successful?
- Do you think your goals are unrealistic? Why or why not?
- Do you have all the tools you need in order to do your job? Are there any you wish you had?
- Why do you think the people you’re talking to aren’t converting? Are they providing you with a reason?
- Can you tell me how a typical conversation goes? Where are you getting caught up?
- Can we run through a quick role-playing exercise so that I can experience the interaction as a potential customer?
- Do you feel like you have all the training you need? Are there specific areas you know you’d like to improve on?
- How do you think we should proceed? How can I help you get back on track?
- Is there anything I can do to help you?
- What else should I know?
This list is obviously not exhaustive, but it should get you thinking about how to initiate a conversation with your employee. The questions you ultimately ask will vary depending on your knowledge of the situation, your relationship with your employee, and your own communication style.
2. Evaluate Existing Training
When you find out that one of your agents isn’t meeting his or her own goals, it can be tempting to want to put the blame on them, but remember: their ability to succeed ultimately falls on your shoulders as their manager. It’s your responsibility to ensure that they have the tools, resources, and training necessary to do their jobs.
When you’re dealing with a performance situation, it’s important to talk to your employees, but you should also spend some time evaluating the existing training materials and efforts that you provide to your reservation agents.
We’ve spent a lot of time writing about the importance of initial and ongoing training on this blog. If you don’t spend a lot of time actively training your employees today, I recommend going through some of these resources that we’ve published on our blogs in the past:
- How to Boost Employee Productivity at Your Property – section 3 in this article will present you with three options on how to approach training at your business.
- 8 Sales & Customer Service Books Your Reservation Agents Should Read – this article provides a number of book recommendations that you can share with your agents who want to level up their sales, communication, and customer service skills.
- 12 Tips for Hiring Winning Reservation Agents – this article stresses the importance of having training materials and training programs in place before a new employee accepts the job and starts working for you.
- 8 Great Ways to Motivate Your Reservation Agents – this article makes the case for using training and growth plans as motivators for your employees.
- How to Train Your Staff in The Art of Amazing Customer Service – this article will help you understand how to create and implement a customized training program and schedule for your team of agents.
When your employees aren’t performing at the level you expect, don’t put all the blame on them. Think about what you’re doing each month to help them continue to learn and be effective in their roles. If you don’t have an established training program in place, make a goal to create and implement one by the end of the month.
3. Develop a Plan
To help your reservation agents improve upon their performance, you have to put a clear plan in place. Having open, honest dialogue with your employee about the challenges they’ve been experiencing is important, but it won’t do either of you much good unless you can follow up with and agree on actionable steps that can be taken to address and alleviate the issues moving forward.
Here are some examples of actionable steps that you might agree need to be taken to help your employee get back on track:
- Step 1: Help your employee complete 5 hours of 1-on-1 training before the end of the month.
- Step 2: Get your employee access to the tools they said they need to be more productive and successful.
- Step 3: Perform a few more role-playing exercises over the next 3 weeks with your employee to help them understand how to overcome objections and convert more leads.
- Step 4: Schedule regular weekly check-ins with your employee to make sure they are getting the support they need in order to get back on track.
Once you know what steps need to be taken, it may also be worthwhile to reset goals with your employee. The goals you put in place will vary depending on the employee and the situation, but following the “SMART” framework can help ensure accountability, progress, and success. The SMART framework encourages employees and employers to work together to design goals that are:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating, numerical)
- Achievable (agreed, attainable)
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)
Having an improvement plan in place that your employee can act on is crucial. Without one, you risk the chance of your employee falling back into their old habits soon after the initial sting of your conversation about missed goals has subsided.
4. Provide Extra Help
One of the fastest and best ways to help your employees get back on track with their goals is to remind them that they’re not alone—that there are people they can turn to for help. This goes back to the importance of fostering open and honest communication on your team. When you’re not performing well at your job, it can feel incredibly lonely, stressful, and disheartening at times.
As a manager, it’s your job to help your employees understand that it’s OK to speak up when they need help. No one should feel afraid to reach out when they aren’t meeting goals or expectations. To help your team feel comfortable getting help, be clear about what options exist that they can leverage when they need it.
Here are 6 ways you can provide extra help to employees who aren’t meeting their goals this month:
- Option 1: You can provide individual training to each of your employees on a monthly basis.
- Option 2: You can pair employees together in mentor/mentee relationships to encourage your team to work together and learn from each other.
- Option 3: You can schedule training sessions for your entire team as a group on a regular basis.
- Option 4: You can buy books for your team members to read on their own each month.
- Option 5: You can send your team members to conferences or sign them up to attend webinars.
- Option 6: You could bring in a third-party coach to train and motivate your team.
Look through the list above and decide which option or options would make the most sense for your team. Don’t wait until an issue arises to implement one of these ideas. Instead, be proactive about it and start offering additional help opportunities now whether your team asks for it or not. It’s a good habit to get into, and it also helps your team understand that you’re here to help them succeed.
5. Become a Better Leader
As mentioned earlier in this post, your employees aren’t the only ones to blame when goals and expectations aren’t met. The responsibility also falls to you as a manager. To help your team succeed, and to understand how to address the situation when they aren’t, you need to work constantly on becoming a better and more effective leader.
Thankfully, there is an endless amount of information available that you can leverage to level up your people management and leadership skills.
If you’re looking for a good leadership book, start with these recommendations:
- The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
- Sales Management. Simplified.: The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team by Mike Weinberg
- Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More by Morten Hansen
If you’re looking for a good blog post to sink your teeth into, start here:
- How To Be A Good Leader from Officevibe
- 4 Strategies Every Sales Leader Should Be Using in 2018 from HubSpot
- 10 Steps To Lead A Small But Effective Team from Fast Company
When you’re managing a property, you’re likely responsible for spinning a lot of plates at any given time. The idea of taking time out of your busy day to read about how to become a better leader doesn’t always seem feasible, but at the end of the day, it’s a crucial piece of building an effective team. Don’t let your reservations team run on autopilot. Don’t just manage and check in when things don’t look good. Lead and be a resource for people. Motivate them. Listen to them. Do what you can to help.
6. Make Tough Decisions
In business, there are going to be times when you do everything you can to help a person succeed and they still end up falling short. It happens. As a manager, it’s your job to know when to lean in and give support to an employee, and when to call it a day.
Letting an employee go is never easy, but if you’ve gone above and beyond to address the situation, communicate with your employee, put a plan in place, and you’re still not seeing improvements, you have to make the tough decision to part ways.
Before you let an employee go, however, make sure you are within your legal rights and doing everything you can to protect your company. Here are a few resources to read through before making the final decision:
- How To Fire an Employee: Everything You Need To Know from When I Work
- How to Fire an Employee and Stay within the Law from the U.S. Small Business Administration
- The Right Way to Fire an Employee from CNN Money
As mentioned, letting an employee go is never easy, but as a manager, it’s your job to make the tough decisions and ensure that you’re building a team that can meet aggressive goals and work hard to sustain and grow your property business. If there are people on your team who are unwilling to take feedback and improve, the hard truth is that your team will be better off and more effective without them.
7. Follow Up
As a final reminder, make sure to follow-up often with your underperforming employees to track progress and offer support once you’ve developed and agreed on a plan to get back on track. Meet regularly to check in on goals, discuss progress, talk through challenges or roadblocks, and make tweaks or changes to plans and goals as needed.
Over to You
How do you motivate your reservation agents? Tell me in the comments below.