Resolving Complaints with Fellow Licensees
| November 16, 2021
Brief guide by James Porter, RECA Professional Conduct Review Manager
Did know you know? Sixteen per cent of complaints that come into RECA are from licensees who are facing an issue with a fellow licensee. In many cases, these complaints can be settled by communication between the licensees. This is self-regulation in action, and in a lot of cases, communicating should be the very first course of action if you find yourself having an issue with another licensee.
If you put yourself in their shoes, wouldn’t you rather be made aware of a mistake before someone reports you? This way, the person has the chance to make it right and learn to do better.
Here is a brief guide on how to resolve concerns with a licensee:
Step 1: Send the licensee a friendly reminder
Soon after the situation occurs, at your earliest convenience, bring your concerns forward to the licensee in a professional manner. Having a professional tone can also mean casual and helpful, rather than accusatory. For example:
“Hi Holly, I was driving down 4th street today and noticed your bus bench does not have the name of your brokerage on it. I just wanted to let you know that this could impact your reputation. According to the rules, you need to have the brokerage name clearly indicated in your ads. You might want to reach out to your broker and check their policies on advertising to make sure your ads are in compliance. Have a great day.”
Step 2: Involve the licensee’s broker if the licensee does not respond or does not cooperate
If the licensee does not respond, does not cooperate or reacts to your communication in an unprofessional manner, RECA recommends bringing the issue to the attention of your broker (or broker delegate) who can then bring up the issue to the other licensee’s broker.
When you bring up the issue to your broker, remember to write out a summary of the issue and provide them any transcripts of written communication between you and the other licensee.
If your broker is unfamiliar with resolving complaints with other brokers, RECA has a document that guides licensees through the Voluntary Broker Resolution Process, which is designed to satisfy minor consumer complaints through discussion between the consumer, the industry professional, and the broker.
Step 3: If the matter is not resolved after step one and two, a formal complaint should be filed with RECA.
Filing a formal complaint with RECA should be a last resort, after both brokers have been involved and cannot resolve the issue.
If a colleague brings a concern to your attention, try to view it as an opportunity to collaborate and improve, rather than a criticism. Thank the individual for bringing the issue to your attention, even if you feel you did not do anything wrong. If you’re confused, ask them for more details. Talk to your broker if you’re unsure what to do.
Remember, ignoring or not dealing with concerns from colleagues can result in it becoming an aggravating factor if RECA issues a sanction.
No matter the situation, aggressive behaviour such as threats or profane language is never appropriate and may also result in further sanctions if RECA investigates the issue.
Likewise, if you’re the one who is bringing up an issue, remember that it’s never easy to hear you’ve made a mistake and a little kindness goes a long way. Be patient and give your fellow colleague the benefit of the doubt. Especially since we’re still in a pandemic, everyone, including your licensee colleagues, is under more stress and may react differently to a perceived criticism.
Like any skill, conflict resolution takes time and practice to become proficient at. Licensees spend a lot of time perfecting conflict resolution techniques between themselves and clients and between buyers and sellers, so why not take the time to use those skills with your peers. Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned professional, we encourage you to take these types of opportunities to hone your conflict resolution skills and help uphold Alberta’s reputation of a safe and professional real estate industry.