The importance of mentoring

Trying to DIY your career? Take a different approach

The importance of mentoring

Mentoring has found to be beneficial across ages and industries, both within and outside of the professional sphere.

In the mortgage industry, mentoring and coaching has evolved from something that happens at the start of one’s career to learn the ropes of the business, to a booming side industry. And being mentored or coached isn’t just for those who are floundering, either; in addition to providing mentoring and coaching services to others, some of the most successful originators are recipients of mentoring and coaching themselves.

You’d think that the top advice for originators who want to up their game and get to that next tier of production would be to dig deep and look at what improve form within, but actually, common advice is to seek help elsewhere. Originators should look for a coach or a mentor who will hold them accountable and serve as a sounding board for new strategies and techniques.

Kory Kavanewsky is a branch manager at CMG Financial, and he likens getting an origination coach to getting training for anything anyone wants to do well.

“If you’re going to go try to learn how to play a new sport or do yoga . . . how are you going to do it? Are you going to YouTube and figure it out or are you going to go to a class where there’s an instructor?” Kavanewsky said. “At some point you might walk away from the class and go, ‘I’ve got this,’ but you’re probably going to look to someone else for some guidance. That comes at a cost, but doesn’t it make sense? The best athletes in the world have coaches and trainers and people that stretch them . . . because the best still want to get better.”

Spare time is in short supply for originators, who are using every moment to either follow up with past clients or seek out new business. But receiving mentoring and coaching from others doesn’t have to be a time suck on the day.

Matt Coles, a sales manager with Plaza Home Mortgage, has mentored other industry professionals and said that when someone chooses to invest time into any mentoring or coaching activity, it’s important to ensure that the time is structured time, not wasted time.

“When you’re investing your time in mentoring, or coaching, or whatever it might be, you have to make sure it’s structured,” he said. In addition to set one-on one meetings and shadow calls, he’s also made use of “down time” such as traveling in the car. “We’re not talking chit-chat, we’re talking about sales calls, we’re talking about best practices. Just find the time in a little divots of your day. You don’t have to be on them all the time but you want to make sure to find time,” he said.

Experienced originators need to find time to invest in themselves and find a mentor or coach who can help them improve their game, but new originators need to have others willing to invest in them as well. Coles said that younger hires expect more guidance than previous generations did and in order to retain them, employers and managers have to meet that expectation.

“You do have to dedicate some time to them in order to make sure that they feel value that you’re going to deliver,” Coles said. “Set it and forget it, you can’t do that. You have to continue to touch back with them.”

Originating is a relationships business, and a relationship with a mentor can last for years, even after the professional development component has expired.

Chris Keelin, senior vice president at Family First Funding, had a mentor at a previous company, under whom he grew enough to strike out on his own. His relationship with the mentor wasn’t always rosy after he left, but it has continued to grow years after.

“To this day, when my national rankings come out, when I get awards, I literally, every single time, send him a text and say, ‘Thanks, man, I couldn’t have been here without you.’ He responds, ‘You did it all on your own.’ The truth is, nobody does it on their own. Nobody does. You always need somebody to pat your back, whether it’s support at home or support by a work colleague. You need somebody to support you.”

This relationship has shaped the way that Keelin deals with his own employees, and how he chooses to coach and encourage them along their personal career paths.

“If I grow somebody, if I teach them so much that they go do this on their own, who am I to stop them because somebody did the same thing for me. So ultimately, I have to make it so good that they don’t leave, but give them all the tools that they can leave,” Keelin said.

Some people hold onto the idea that originators are competing against each other, and are reluctant to share strategies or success stories of things that have had positive outcomes for themselves and their business. The reality, however, is that what works in one market won’t necessarily work in another, and seeking out new methods for increasing personal accountability and giving others an opportunity to learn from your mistakes isn’t a weakness. If anything, it’s an understanding that everyone, regardless of where they are on the ladder, has valuable contributions.

“You can’t expect to just do it yourself. You can’t DIY your career and expect that you’re going to get amazing results,” Kavanewsky said.