Company culture can be a boon to recruitment as well as an integral part of employee retention. With mortgage originators constantly on the lookout for lenders with the best products and rates, having a stellar company culture is something that many business can place front and center to differentiate themselves from the rest.
But what does it take to build a positive performance-oriented culture, and how to engineer something that’s so hard to define?
XINNIX recently released an ebook with 10 key takeaways from their recent CEO Roundtable, “The Mortgage Executive Challenge: Building a High Performance Culture of Excellence.” This roundtable featured feedback from four executives: Wes Hunt of Homestar Financial; Steve Adamo from Santander Bank; Bruno Pasceri from UFG Holdings; and Rich Phillips from American Mortgage Service Company. Turns out, there are a handful of specific things that leaders can do to build a company that is known for its high levels of performance on both a personal and an organizational level.
- Have a clearly defined mission, vision, and core values
These values need to include respect, honesty, and integrity, and embedding them throughout the organization means that leadership has to go beyond posting them on a wall or including them in a company handbook. Treating employees with respect inspires that same behavior reflected within the company and also to clients, and performance and reputation will improve.
- Be extraordinarily customer-centric
Saying that you provide good customer service is miles apart from building a business around a customer experience. Imagine the process from the customer’s point of view, and give mortgage originators the freedom to improve that process to the best of their ability. This also involves removing any barriers that might detract from that experience.
- Foster a highly collaborative team environment
Working to improve the customer experience isn’t something that one person can do on their own. “When problems arise—and they will—a team who knows how to work together will be much more successful than individuals who are going it alone. This means that as a leader, you want to empower your team to be collaborative,” XINNIX summarized. Prioritize collective and effective problem-solving as opposed to finger-pointing.
- Embrace ‘servant leadership’
Servant leadership isn’t a personal leadership style; it’s an inversion of the traditional leadership model with the boss and the top and the customers at the bottom. With servant leadership, the boss serves their employees who in turn serve the clients, and employees at all levels contribute to the growth of the organization through mentoring and coaching.
- Seek wise counsel
While all decision-making can’t be democratized, being open to solutions reinforces the idea that leadership doesn’t rule with a heavy hand. Structure the company in such a way that there are multiple outlets for feedback and ideas. Seeking advice and help from wise counsel demonstrates that leadership is willing to implement the best ideas in order to improve outcomes for all involved, regardless of where those ideas originate.
- Invest in professional development and training
From onboarding new employees to ensuring long-tenured employees stay up-to-date on their skills, investing in the people within your organization sends a message that leadership wants them to be the best person that they can be. It helps attract employees who desire to grow and learn, and it also keeps the current workforce engaged and fosters high levels of job satisfaction.
- Engagement drives sales performance
Unengaged employees won’t excel in their roles, nor will they remain committed to their work. Leaders said that measuring employee engagement through periodic surveys or focus groups can help leaders ensure that employee engagement remains high and consistent.
- Take ownership and responsibility
“True leaders take responsibility at all times for the big picture and ownership for the actions of their teams.”
This means the success and failures of the organization ultimately lies at the feet of leadership, not employees. Be intentional about getting to know the people within a company, what motivates them and how you can help them succeed at their jobs, while removing anything that can hinder their progress. Knowing when to lead and when to allow their team to take the reins is an important lesson of leadership, and will empower employees to make decisions in the best interests of the company.
- Report, measure, and hold teams accountable
Make sure that employees are all accountable to someone; having an accountability partner can provide a great source of guidance and hold them to their commitments on a regular basis. The leaders did say, however, that most organizations don’t have the expertise or capacity to measure that accountability or put it to its best use, in which case it is “critical to outsource this initiative to a proven provider that can dedicate the needed time and attention.”
- Put in the work
Very few top producers don’t become so overnight—and even if they did, they put in the hard work each and every day to remain at the top. Successful people want to be surrounded by other successful people, and they will bring out the best in each other. Do leaders have a responsibility to help originators get to the top?
“For those that have not yet reached top producer status, one of two things is missing: a lack of will or skill. If they are lacking will, or desire and passion for achievement, it can be very difficult for successful change to occur. However, if they lack the skill but are willing to change if given the right toolset or environment, leaders can and should help these individuals by setting them up for success.”
Put in the work to help employees succeed, and the entire company will be rewarded.