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Is Your Career the Result of Mutual Selection?

Eric Levin
Jun 07, 2012

You are a successful mortgage loan originator. You have your own referral base and a network of sources from which you draw a substantial share of your business. You are a proven commodity. Have you ever wondered if there is a better professional environment for you out there … somewhere? We all think about it from time to time, particularly after something at our current place of employment has not gone particularly well. But is it true? Could there be a place that better fits who I am and what I have to bring to the table? Quite possibly. How can I be so sure that the odds are in the favor of there being a better opportunity available to you in the marketplace? Because most mortgage loan originators are working at lending firms due to reasons that have little to do with maximizing Model-Match. Model-Match is a term my firm, Hammerhouse LLC, uses to describe the ideal matching of talent (mortgage loan originators) with employers (lending firms) across a wide range of variables in six core areas of engagement: Leadership, culture, business, operations, technology and geography. I would bet that you are working at your current organization for one of the following reasons: ►A friend or friends work there ►My original company was purchased by my current employer ►Geographic proximity to my referral partners ►They had a program or rates I liked ►They recruited me ►Followed leadership Sometimes, things just seem to happen and we end up working somewhere for reasons that have little to do with maximizing our potential. It is important to recognize this fact and to call it what it is … “Employer by Default.” There is nothing wrong or sinister about having an employer by default, but it is hardly the environment in which you would expect to see the best outcomes for the people and organizations involved. Model-Matching doesn’t happen by default. We should all periodically consider our career. Are you doing what you were born to do? Are you highly motivated, passionate and happy? There are three possible answers: 1) Yes—I am doing exactly what I want to be doing and where I want to do it. 2) No—I consider what I am doing to be a job, a means to an end, or a way to support myself and my family. 3) Yes, but—I am doing exactly what I want to be doing, but I think I could do it even better. If you are fortunate enough to be able to claim number one, then you are part of a fortunate few. Surveys suggest that only two percent of workers agree with the second statement. If you find yourself agreeing with statement number two, then you already know it’s time to move on to find a better career fit. For those of you drawn to statement number three, let me encourage you to do this—determine if what is keeping you from claiming statement number one has to do with you or your employer. Are there skills, attitudes or efforts keeping you from the career you desire? If so, then get off of your rear end and make the necessary changes in yourself. If, however, you find that what is holding you back is the organization that you work with, then I encourage you to initiate a “process of selection.” Process of selection What is a “process of selection?” Let me explain. A friend of ours is involved in the economic development/site selection industry. The two different names have to do with the perspective of each of the main parties involved. “Economic development” is the name used by government entities that are seeking to improve the economic opportunities available to their citizens through many activities, but key among them is the recruitment of industry that will provide jobs and tax revenue. “Site selection” is the name of the function within corporations that selects the locations for corporate operational facilities. When I considered recruitment of talent in the mortgage industry, I can see many parallels. Mortgage companies are in the business of growing their operations through the addition of producers who help to increase revenue and profits. Proven LOs with self-developed business are highly sought-after commodities that seek to “locate” their production in the best possible place. Both economic development/site selection and the mortgage industry involve an attempt to best match people and places. But my friend shared a problem that plagues his industry. Too often, he says participants on both sides have turned the process into one of “elimination” rather than one of “selection.” As I have pondered what that meant and how it relates to the business I am in, the more profound it has become … elimination is negative and selection is positive. That alone seems reason enough to favor the latter, but as I discovered, the difference between the two orientations truly changes how the process of matching people and places works in practice. The Elimination Model The Elimination Model is, at its core, a process to eliminate options from consideration. Mortgage companies employing the Elimination Model tend to follow a path that looks something like this (while this is laid out from the mortgage company’s point of view, the same approach is often used by LOs when looking for a new lender): 1) Establishment of the ideal candidate ►What is it that we are looking for? ► What are the metrics that define the ideal candidate? 2) Discovery ► How can we screen candidates to eliminate those who don’t meet those metrics? 3) Disillusionment ►What do we do since no candidates meet our ideal? 4) Settling ►Let’s select the candidate that scored best against our metrics. The obvious problem with the Elimination Model is that it yields a result that is contrary to the established goal. The choice made is likely always to be viewed in a negative light—as less than desirable. This model also focuses on the past—what was achieved in a different environment. Let’s contrast that with a Selection Model which has as its core a process to select the best possible candidate. The Selection Model tends to follow a process that looks like this: 1) Establishment of a profile ►What are the characteristics of candidates who fit the profile? ►What methods (beyond numbers) will be used to evaluate the candidates? 2) Discovery ►How can we identify candidates that meet or can meet the profile? 3) Relationship building ►Getting to know what drives, motivates and limits the identified candidates. 4) Mutual selection ►Decision by both parties to work together to achieve the shared vision—to create the ideal. The advantages of the Selection Model are many, but let me focus on two. First, it produces a result that is viewed in a positive light. Second, and this is key, it focuses on what comes next, rather than what has come before. Why spend so much time evaluating and eliminating candidates based on what they have accomplished in the past in different circumstances? Why not, instead, focus on developing a mutually-shared vision of what the goals are and how, together, they can be achieved? A selection process doesn’t mean that threshold metrics are not used as part of the evaluation, but a selection process must go well beyond the numbers before a choice is made. The overall lesson I have learned from my examination of “elimination” vs. “selection” is that ideal candidates do not exist—period. Ideal candidates become that only after two Model-Matched parties get together, explore what makes each other tick and decide to pursue their shared goals. The mortgage industry specifically, and the world in general, needs more people who are Model-Matched to their place of employment through a process of mutual selection. Eric Levin is managing partner at Hammerhouse LLC, a national recruiting and strategic growth firm for the financial services industry with mortgage sales and leadership placement at its core. He may be reached by phone at (949) 525-9405 or e-mail [email protected]
Jun 07, 2012
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