A (former) CRE Broker’s Tips to Communication…with people other than Brokers

Squad Goals? Start with talking to each other in the right way

Coming from a world of fairly customer-facing interactions, it’s safe to say I was used to a good bit of control in discussions, presentations and counseling for our clients. In fact, I found the most fun I ever had in the business was in these interactions, where our strategies and vision for an asset or portfolio really changed the way their tenants, owners or developers thought about their needs. So, entering the world of technology, engineering, product development, and delivery has been a little teensy bit of a culture shock ;)

I tell my cofounders (who have vast technical, leadership and marketing experiences) all the time how big of a change this really is for me. When we have discussions on our platform, especially on how to tackle features or rollouts, I’m always amazed at the communication. It’s so process-oriented, so detailed, so LOGICAL.

Not to knock my former business in commercial real estate but a fair bit of our industry is built on the rails of trust. That trust is built in equal parts of positive results and matched expectations. When you’re new to an assignment and you’re pitching your vision for how best to tackle their needs, there is a good dose of charm, wit and hope that you have enough moxie for your audience and clients to agree. Once you’ve proved it, you’re good of course. The short version is you have to sell your ideas.

I’ve always said that in CRE you sell your ideas and your advice. You’re not selling a building or a development. Experienced investors, tenants and owners do not need to be sold on the characteristics of an asset or investment. They need to be sold on where it’s going, what can be done, and what the future holds. That is so NOT the way it works in technical product development.

First of all, don’t sell them on your vision, your business or your methodologies. It’s amazing, but if you hire the right people and pay them a fair compensation, they tend to believe in that same vision! Secondly, logical people are constantly searching for details. They want everything, and I mean everything. Describing something is like 5% of the work. You need planning, mockups, style sheets, design, Jira Cards, Scrum-mastering and SLACK before you have a chance in hell of getting something coded in reality the way you think of it in your head.

Learning how to interact, communicate and work with technical people after coming from an industry that can be FAR from technical has been a real challenge. As of today, I’m a proud card-carrying member of the JIRA board. I find myself asking questions about Tasks vs Stories, front-end vs back-end and wondering whether React is better than VueJS in certain applications. When I tell my cofounders and tech team they’ve created a monster, they give me a coy smile or a chuckle, knowing full well I am in the world of Agile Development.

That being said, it has been a real positive to grow personally and professionally by learning how to communicate and work with folks on our team. It starts with making a great hire and a good cultural fit, but the reality of product development is that it never stops.

So it’s essential to be able to get your points (and yes your dreams and visions) on a feature or iteration of your project across in an efficient manner. As you can tell from my writing, I’m a bit verbose ;)

So, with the spirit of learning how to communicate in mind. Here are my top five tips for communicating better with your team. Let me know what your favorite strategies are in the comments!

  1. Know your audience’s personality type and communication style. This may seem cliche, but getting to know your team and how they react to problems, successes and general discourse is an absolute must. If you know how they communicate and respond in a conversation you can tailor your message and set fair and mindful goals/expectations.
  2. Check in with yourself before speaking. My mother would be floored by this one. Think before you speak and SLOW DOWN. I have a real problem with fast-talking, and struggle with interruptions. Even though it’s vastly improved, it is a continuous work of progress for me. One of the things I mindfully work on in every conversation is to SLOW down and listen. Understand how you and they are feeling and take that into account.
  3. Set levels and goals in your conversation topics and hit them. For example, if you say there are reasons why you should use a certain software give THREE reasons, then stop and listen. It’s natural and gives a breaking point for your conversation partner. Start with a goal so your conversation has a place to get to (and end)
  4. Know your limits. It’s OK to admit you don’t know all. I lean on my team and my technical leadership for literally every decision. We don’t always agree but that’s fine, it’s about getting to a state where you’re comfortable and the other party is comfortable. A team should be a team working towards a common goal, remember that, NO BATTLEFIELDS.
  5. Learn to say “I can live with this.” It’s not just a kick the can down the road technique or worse, an anchor, you can use to say I told you so later if something doesn’t work. Passive aggressiveness has NO place in the workplace. By announcing you are OK with a decision you are acknowledging your support, 100%, without reservations. If something needs to change your team should have a culture of honesty and innovation, both with help suss out needed improvements without leaning on past conversations as ego markers.

This is a great resource for learning about communication styles and personality types, including your own… P ersonality Test

Thanks for reading, I appreciate it.

If you’ve ever made a major transition in your career you’ll understand this series of posts I’m writing. It’s a little documentation on the process and the journey. Feel free to LinkedIn me for questions or comments as well. Oh, and check out our beta at Tenavox.com

Josh Feinberg

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on July 5, 2017.