A People First Certified Company

Putting People First (Really!)

(Excerpt from Florida Realtor, August 2012)
Florida Realtor Magazine Article (PDF)

Sure, you think you put people first, but do you have a program that formalizes it like this one?

“One of our offices has a very aggressive goal for selecting and developing—we don’t call it “recruiting and retention”—sales associates, and this particular manager was struggling to get things done,” says Rei L. Mesa, President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, headquartered in Sunrise, Fla. “We said, ‘Let’s apply the People First® Culture as a support team.’ Office appointments with productive sales professionals that we were trying to get [were] lined up immediately. It turned things around.”

Rei L. Mesa

President and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

Change home and office

To formally codify the idea in his company’s culture, Mesa turned to Jack Lannom’s People First program and earned its certification in May. A people-oriented business culture must tie to people’s homes and personal lives, says Mesa, “If things at home are not doing well, that’s going to impact your professional life—and vice versa. So the whole process involves [creating a balance in both] your professional life and your home life.”

Use power phrases

Lannom’s People First program helps to get everyone on the same page by providing thought structures called The Pyramid of People Power. Mesa says using these words and reinforcing their meaning to a People First Culture makes all the difference. From top to bottom of the pyramid, the words are:

Everyone in the organization is encouraged to use the power phrases in sincere and timely ways. Balance comes, says Mesa, when the same words and sentiments are used at home. “My daughter, who just finished her freshman year exams, keeps telling me, ‘Dad, I can’t tell you how many times I thought about your words “I believe in you” when I was going through exams.’”
To reorient thinking, Mesa’s organization uses replacement words for older business terms. For example, “Purpose Partners” describes anyone tied to the company mission, from employees to vendors to allied service providers. Job titles get revised too, such as “desk manager” for receptionist and “leadership team leader” for branch manager.

Train everyone

Mesa accompanied all 110 employees (including those in the company’s subsidiaries) through Lannom’s People First training program. “It’s a team effort with everyone included,” says Mesa … Mesa toured his 50 offices explaining Lannom’s People First program and his vision for a people-focused company. He explained ways associates can immediately use the Pyramid of People Power concept to improve their professional and home lives and invited them to sign up for People First training webinars.

“I got hundreds of emails from our sales professionals about how they have applied some of the things I’ve talked about in their personal lives,” says Mesa. “In our world we have two customers—internal customers (our sales professionals) and external customers (the buyers, sellers, tenants, landlords and everybody we do business with). This culture and philosophy brings everything together.” In the end, says Mesa, “every company has a culture—some, like ours, are by design; others by default. I’d rather do it by design.”

Mesa says putting people above profits creates a more productive and, subsequently, a more profitable company. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t have a business plan, budgets and strategic meetings on the financial side. But we realize we need the people to execute those plans and those goals, and that’s the People First philosophy, or culture. It generates an attitude that binds our customers and prospects with our company.”

Rei L. Mesa, CRS, CRB
President, C.E.O., Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices