Viewing by month: October 2010

Dealing with discrimination in your franchise

Discrimination may be occurring in your Franchise between one or more staff members without you even knowing about it.  Discrimination in the workplace is considered by the Australian Government as being an unacceptable form of conduct to the point where both the Federal and state governments have created specific legislation to prevent discrimination based on race, class, religion, sex and physical impairment amongst other forms of prejudices.

As the Franchisor and owner of your CENTURY 21 agency, it is your role and responsibility to be aware and to act on any issues relating to discrimination within your workplace.  A safe way to prevent any nasty words or actions within the office is to simply educate the staff on the strict consequences they will face if they are to act disrespectfully to another member of staff.  It is usually a good idea to establish a policy which is visible and known to all staff discouraging discrimination on all fronts.

When or if you are required to act on an alleged act of discrimination, try to remain professional and appoint a contact person or panel to liaise with individuals about the complaint or concern.  Irrespective of which type of discrimination the matter involves, it is important to remain professional and supportive of your staff. 

It may be worthwhile to include a section in your Franchise’s Constitution or in employment contracts which announces the something along the lines of the following:
“The [insert your Franchise name] fully supports the rights and opportunities of all people to seek, obtain and pursue their work in a safe environment.
Discrimination is unlawful behaviour and will therefore not be tolerated at this CENTURY 21 Franchise. With support of the following Acts, it is this Franchise’s policy to make every effort to provide a non-discriminatory, harassment and intimidation free working environment.  The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Commonwealth) and the WA Equal Opportunities Act, the Commonwealth Disability Act 1992, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984”.

It is standard protocol when a staff member approaches you with a concern that you ask for the complaint to be documented in writing, encouraging full and specific details of the situation.  The complaint is to include;

-    The names of the parties involved
-    The alleged conduct
-    Relevant dates and times
-    Details of the event
-    The place the event occurred
-    The witness to the behaviour, if any

The complaint should then be privately discussed with the person questioning how they would like the issue to be resolved.  Conciliation is often the best method to move forward with.  If the victim does not think you have dealt with the matter in a professional manner, they may consider contacting the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which has a responsibility of overseeing compliance of anti-discrimination laws.

To protect your staff and prevent any negative media attention it is important that as the owner of the franchise you are informed of any problems which arise between your staff and act on serious matters with strength and professionalism.  You need to showcase to all staff that your Franchise is not tolerant of such behaviour.


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 26/10/2010 at 10:57 AM | Categories:

How to resolve workplace conflict

Whilst avoiding conflict at work may seem to be the easy way out of a situation, it can actually be a far more difficult path to take.  As tempers begin to flare and remarks are made to others, the best idea is usually to resolve conflict sooner rather than later. 

The effects of conflict in the workplace can be widespread and costly and much of management’s time and energy may be spent resolving conflict between employees.  Ultimately a lack of resolution can lead to a decrease in productivity, a high turnover rate, and increasing absenteeism from staff.  Owning a CENTURY 21 Franchise should bring you prosperity and growth, not conflict and downturn.

It is important to realise that conflicts are inevitable at work, but that they can be dealt with effectively.   Remember the best workplaces are not those without conflict, but rather those who can handle conflict well.

Address conflict sooner than later
Acting in the ‘now’ to address the conflict is the single most important tip on resolving the issue.  It is tempting to wait for an issue to blow over and be forgotten, however just remember in most cases conflict tends to escalate if it is not resolved.
Just ask
Sometimes there is a perfectly good reason why people act the way they do.  Knowing the full story can sometimes cause conflict to evaporate.  If you do not understand why a staff member or colleague is acting differently towards you or others simply ask them what is wrong.  A good example is “I noticed that you did X yesterday, is everything ok?”

Choose your environment carefully
A hurried conversation at your desk may not solve anything; perhaps invite the people you are having an issue with into your office or a boardroom so as to discuss the issue in a quiet and private setting.  Agree prior to sitting down that the purpose of the meeting will be resolve the conflict ensuring all parties arrive prepared.

Structure your words
Structuring your words may take time to prepare, but making the effort to think about what you would like to say can be extremely helpful.  Try to describe facts of the situation as objectively as possible to effectively communicate your point of view.   

As a manager and owner it is your duty to listen to your fellow colleagues.  Active listening involves tying to understand what the real situation is and how the conflict began, and suggesting how it can be resolved.  You can be empathetic and compassionate to your employees or colleagues without crossing the line.  If you are able to communicate effectively and set a good example by listening to your office, you should be able to empower staff to resolve the majority of office conflict.

What if this doesn’t work? Some conflicts are so entrenched in a person that they cannot be resolved by one single conversation or action. Sometimes finding a third party for mediation is the best option moving forward.  As the owner of your franchise your staff may turn to you.  It is important to watch your office space and acknowledge when to step in to the issues of others, and when to stay out of them. 

0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 18/10/2010 at 2:19 PM | Categories:

Workplace Health & Safety

As the owner of a CENTURY 21 franchise, it is up to you to ensure that your workplace is a safe place to work for your employees.  Correct procedures are sometimes ignored in the office environment as it is thought to be a fairly safe environment, which it is.  However this doesn’t mean that the correct procedures may be ignored.   

Health and Safety guidelines have been set by the Australian Government for a reason and that is to keep both your employees and members of the public healthy and safe.

As a CENTURY 21 Franchise owner, it is your responsibility to comply with the following legal requirements to prevent prosecution and fines.

Under Australia’s OH&S legislation you are obliged to provide:
• safe premises
• safe machinery and materials
• safe systems of work
• information, instruction, training and supervision
• a suitable working environment and facilities

Workplace health and safety authorities in each state and territory of Australia have responsibilities for enforcing OH&S legislation. They provide information and advice on safety and health at work.  It may be of benefit to hold an infrequent staff meeting to educate and train your staff on common OH&S practices within the office.
Without appropriate seminars and measures work place injury can arise and have a large impact on your business. An employee injured whilst on the job is entitled by law to claim Workers’ Compensation.  Under the law you must provide an injured worker with rehabilitation while being paid.  It is therefore in your interest to talk and educate your staff on appropriate safety measures both in the office and when on the road.
It is also up to you as a franchise owner to enforce simple rules in your real estate agency that may not have been legislated, yet are still important for the wellbeing of your employees and clients.  For instance, when an employee is sick and could risk the health of others, they should be sent home. 
As your employees are real estate agents who are often out of the office, you may like to consider putting into place practices that ensure the whereabouts of your agents are known at all times.  For example, if agents are directed to text in their location every hour, this helps to ensure their safety.  
Safety in the workplace is critical to the success of your business, no matter what size it is.


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 18/10/2010 at 2:17 PM | Categories:

Why transparency makes good business sense

Albert Einstein once said, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”

Maintaining transparency in business is becoming increasingly important in today’s world.  While the spread of information occurring at higher speeds than ever before means that a lack of transparency can deeply hurt a company’s reputation, the act of maintaining clear business operations and principles can help an organisation to build the respect and loyalty of its clientele. 

As a largely people focused industry, it can be very important for real estate franchises to build a culture of transparency in their agencies.  As many real estate agencies depend largely on business from word-of-mouth and customer referrals, it is important that franchises are open and honest, giving clients a reason to remain loyal. 

As a real estate franchise, what does this mean exactly? In many cases it comes down to having a true understanding of a client’s needs, and making recommendations based on these needs, as opposed to the betterment of the agency.

For example, a client decides to sell her home, but members of your real estate agency can see that she is not ready to make such a decision and, despite the risk of losing a commission, advise the client to wait until she is certain.  Such a step will prove the integrity of your agency to the seller, who could go on to recommend your services to friends and family.  

Maintaining transparency in real estate also requires admitting when you have made a mistake, or are uncertain about the answer to a question.  Making up an answer which turns out to be incorrect can be particularly damaging in the eyes of a potential client, even if the issue is small.  However acknowledging that although you are unsure but will find out can be endearing and may help to build the credibility of your agency.  This and other qualities should be engendered and promoted within a real estate franchise. 

With the use of social media growing exponentially, it is now more important than ever for real estate franchises to enhance and improve their transparency.  People are usually more inclined to write about negative experiences as opposed to positive ones and Twitter, Facebook, blogs and a variety of other social mediums present numerous opportunities for disgruntled customers to do so. 

In short, by ingraining a culture of transparency in your franchise through encouraging honesty and by always keeping the best interests of your clients in mind, your real estate agency should benefit.  Your agents may come to be seen as credible and trustworthy, and the referral business gained from loyal customers has the potential to be hugely valuable to your bottom line and company growth.   

1 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 08/10/2010 at 12:17 PM | Categories: