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Why culture fit is a trap in building a brokerage team

Apr 4, 2019

Ifashion-men-vintage-colorful-larget’s no secret that culture fit is a major factor in why certain teams work together and that it makes a positive contribution to job satisfaction and employee retention. Whether you’re on a large team or it’s just you and an admin, you have to give some consideration to coworker dynamics and how you can keep your top performers.

When it comes to inspiring performance and increasing employee loyalty, a strong cultural fit can make all the difference. However, while cultural fit is important, it’s not the only consideration when building your team.

Commercial brokers are salespeople, so there may be a tendency towards favoring extroverts and people with big personalities in the hiring process. But not all great salespeople are extroverts, and to have a balanced team, you may actually need some team members who are more reserved, detail-oriented, and/or analytical. Or maybe you have the opposite problem―too many analysts and not enough movers and shakers!

A team of “big” personalities may be amazing at sales, but there are so many other functions within the team that require different skill sets. As a result, hiring only for cultural fit can actually be a trap when you’re building a commercial brokerage team.

How focusing exclusively on culture fit can go wrong

The culture of a team is critical and should be based on shared values — but that doesn’t mean everyone needs to be the same. The reality is that hiring too many people based on how they fit in with the team’s culture can result in a skills gap.

Every good team needs a diverse set of skills and talents, so you’re able to serve all the needs of the business. When you have too many people with a similar skillset, such as prospecting or closing deals, the business may be left vulnerable in other areas.

To build a strong brokerage team, you need employees with wide and varied skills — including individuals who are strong at research and analysis, marketing, sales, customer service, and detailed paperwork.

Ultimately, you need to hire in such a way that there’s a varied skillset within your team, while also looking for a cultural fit.

Uncover your superpowers

Start by identifying your strengths, or “superpowers,” by making use of one of the multitudes of personality tests available. Tests, such as Myers-Briggs, Strengths Finder, or Kolbe, are all designed to hone in on what you’re best at and how those skills can be leveraged for success.


Let’s look at an example of this in action using the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

If you’re an ENTJ (known as “the commander”), you tend to be extremely logical and don’t make decisions based on feelings. You’re an extrovert who perceives information using intuition, makes decisions based on thinking, and prefers for work and life to be well-planned.

In hiring, you’ll want to consider finding team members who perceive, process, or implement information differently than you. For the ENTJ example, this means your new hire may need to be an introvert to your extrovert or someone who makes decisions based on feelings.

Plus, you can use Myers-Briggs to understand what other personality types you work well with and seek out those qualities in the hiring process. For an ENTJ, you may look for an INTP or ISTP, as you’d have common ground but with different styles and superpowers.

In the end, it matters less what tests or tools you use to figure out your superpowers and more that you take the time to understand what your highest and best value is within the organization and where you need other individuals to fill in the gaps. You want to ensure you have a range of personalities and skill sets, so you have a well-rounded team and each area of the business is cared for.

By identifying your superpowers (and, if applicable, those of your current team), you’ll be able to build a brokerage team that has bench strength in all areas that matter to the business. 

Hiring for hard vs. soft skills

Once you’ve identified where the gaps are in your team, the next step is to put this knowledge into action.

If you’ve already been focusing on hiring for cultural fit, you’ll have a good understanding of how to look for soft skills — as well as the hard skills — required to do a specific role within the brokerage.

The goal is to balance hard and soft skills; while you can train someone to do a specific task, you may not be able to make them fit within your organization.

For example, many brokerages have someone who fills a client service coordinator role (or something similar). The person filling this role should be a self-starter and have good judgment as they’re often the front line of communication with clients. They also may need to have a higher level of emotional IQ or the ability to empathize with clients more than other members of your team, such as a broker or financial analyst.

As part of the hiring process, the key is getting clear on what an ideal candidate looks like for the role based on cultural fit, personality, and the required skills.

No matter what role you may be looking to fill within your brokerage, if you focus too much on hiring people that are a fit with your culture, these nuances can be lost — and that impacts the overall performance of the team and brokerage.

Culture fit matters, but having a strong, well-rounded team is going to be the best way to ensure your commercial brokerage runs smoothly, is able to deliver a consistent, top-notch client experience, and be poised to crush your business goals.


One of the best things you can do for your team is to have a system in place to make their work that much easier. Take a look at Apto to see how we can help you do just that.

Topics: Best Practices

The Apto Team

Written by The Apto Team

Apto, the commercial real estate software company, is the #1 CRM and deal management platform for commercial real estate brokers, with more paid users than any other service. Apto was built by and for brokers to help them manage contacts, properties, listings and deals from anywhere, on any device. Apto customers include thousands of independent brokers around the world, as well as multinational brokerages CBRE, JLL, NKF, Cushman & Wakefield and others. Headquartered in Denver, Apto is one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., as ranked by Inc. magazine three years in a row.

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