Why Associates Fail

Why Associates Fail

This article by our Founder and CEO, Chris Pollinger as published by Inman News shares insights on the four reasons why your associates fail to reach their potential.

I have always advocated leaders taking personal responsibility for their associates. When someone joins your team, they are entrusting you with a great deal. They are putting their business and livelihood in your hands.

When taking personal responsibility, we invest in the success of our associates. There is a small contingent of people who will fail despite your best efforts. They just have too much going on in their personal lives to do what it takes. However, in the vast majority of cases, failure can be avoided. Over the years, I have found agents on teams fail for the following four reasons.

Why Associates Fail #1 – They were bad hires

Let’s get this out of the way. Most teams have learned from their brokers the recruiting “fog test”. Meaning, if a person can fog a mirror, and doesn’t have a bad reputation, they are a good candidate. This seems to be the prevalent screening method used by the industry despite it’s years of documented failure.

Successful teams raise the bar. Leaders should be very specific about who they want. Culturally, they should be hiring around their core values. Teams should be hiring according to the team brand and it’s service promise. They should also be hiring to the position on the team. Team models vary, but each team should have a specific profile for each role.

Here are two examples. Do you have a ton of internet leads that need to be worked? If so, you want an unestablished, focused and more passive introvert. They excel at the eCommerce angle. Do you want someone to be a community liaison and manage blowing up your social media? You want an upbeat extrovert who enjoys taking LOTS of photos and video.

Why Associates Fail #2 – They weren’t trained

10% of your agents are going to succeed regardless. Conversely, there are 10% who will fail despite your best efforts. It’s the middle 80% who benefit from training.

Yes, training needs to include the basic technical risk management issues. But too often that is the focus. Team training should be interactive and full of role playing. It should be fun, challenging and full of group accountability.

Expectations should be high and there should be a culture of constant growth. Improvement should be a team obsession. Leaders should set the example and invest in constant training. To play to win, you must first practice to win.

Why Associates Fail #3 – They are ignored

Each agent is a human first and we all have a few core needs. People fail when we ignore them and don’t give them an outlet to experience each one of them at work.

  1. Humans all have a need for some level of certainty in life. We need to be able to count on set expectations.
  2. We all need to have some level of adventure and variety in our lives. New experiences give life spice and bring unexpected joys.
  3. Humans also have a need to contribute. To experience a level of significance. That internal satisfaction that what you do matters.
  4. We all have a need for love and connection. To be accepted.
  5. Humans also need to grow. The world we live in is dynamic and changing. Nothing stands still.

Why Associates Fail #4 – The team lacks systems

Team systems are all about leverage. Your systems allow you to scale and grow. When you lack them, your team will be inconsistent and problematic. This is evident externally with clients. You will also see this internally with frustrated people and high turnover rates.


You can cut out the majority of agents who fail on your watch by addressing four areas. First, hire well. Know what you need and be specific in finding the right person. Second, develop a culture of training. Practice like you want them to play. Third, make sure you are finding ways to be human and meet the underlying needs each person has. Lastly, have the necessary systems in place to deliver your brand promise to both your clients and those on your team.

Want to discuss your specific situation?  Contact us today for a complementary consultation.

Avatar of admin