by Bob Scarff

People and Leadership

My theme for the last couple of weeks has been the vital importance of quality people and quality leadership in ensuring that Sales and Lettings agents deliver customer service that is up to the standard promised at the Valuation appointment.

I’ve heard it said “if only the people in the branches would just do as they’re told, then we wouldn’t have all these problems”. If only……

Now, I’m not going to get started on how followers of great leaders never feel “told” to do anything, that was last week.

No, this week my point relates to people who are simply plain difficult. Now, my theory doesn’t always hold true but in the main, just like the Customer that you really want to get feedback from is one that’s just withdrawn, it is “difficult” employees who have the most to offer you as an insight into the reality of day to day life in your business.

Acceptable in the 80’s

This cropped up last week in a conversation about the 1980’s and the acquisition boom. I was asked what was the most valuable lesson that I had learnt during that time. I recalled the story of one of the first “takeovers” I was involved in. In fact it was probably the very first. It was the takeover by Taylors of Corbett Leach in Bristol. On the day of the announcement we gathered all the staff into a hotel meeting room and talked at them for an hour!! (hello to anyone who was there - July 1987).

Within a fairly short time after that, a lot of really good staff had resigned to work for competitors. They simply didn’t like these new people from Milton Keynes telling them what to do. It wasn’t long before all of the good managers and negotiators had gone.

In the immediate aftermath of this, I remember saying to my then boss that on that very first day in the hotel we would have been better off asking all those people who were quite happy with the news to move to one side and all those that weren’t happy to move to the other. It was this second group that we should have gone and talked with. These were the people that had something about them, these were the people who had something valuable to tell us. These were the people we needed to keep.


Embrace your difficult colleagues, they have something to tell you.

PS - if you think you might have been the most difficult person that I’ve had to manage in my forty years, please drop me an email. I know who you are! If you do, there’s a prize …

Bob Scarff

Written by
Bob Scarff

Bob Scarff ran the UK’s largest and most successful firm of estate agents, having worked his way up from a trainee negotiator in 1978. Now bringing his passion for customer service and organisational discipline to other companies and sectors, he saw quickly the benefits that Callwell can provide and co-founded PropTech Solutions in 2016 to relaunch it into the market.


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Karen scarff

27 Apr 2017 18:38:19

It’s me !!!!

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