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In the mortgage industry, we are constantly faced with factors beyond our control, from the ebbs and flows of the greater economy, to changes in housing policy and service regulations. Yet, how we choose to lead our lending businesses is entirely in our hands.
If you’re like most people, you’ve had a less than stellar job or two in your past. How many of those memories are tied to a “bad manager?” Probably more than you’d like to admit.
According to human resources expert, Susan M. Heathfield, so-called “bad bosses” come in a number of varieties (but we knew that, didn’t we?) Still, Heathfield was able to narrow down the most commonly cited characteristics.
Here are the complaints that topped the list:
►They choose favorites.
►They fail to communicate and may not have clear expectations.
►They use inappropriate disciplinary measures.
►They speak loudly, rudely or one-sidedly to staff.
►They take credit for the successes and positive accomplishments of employees.
►They fail to provide rewards or recognition for positive employee performance.
It sounds obvious, but effective leadership is necessary to keeping employees engaged—and both are tied to boosting your bottom line.
In 2013, Gallup found that 70 percent of American workers were “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their current roles, a statistic often tied to so-called “managers from hell,” according to the study. In fact, these bad managers are not only responsible for creating disengagement among their team members, says Gallup, but are also costing the U.S. an estimated $450 to $550 billion every year.
How much is it costing you?
Employees who are not engaged are more likely to be emotionally disconnected, and thus, much less productive. In our business, that means lackluster customer service, slower processing, and fewer employees who are motivated to initiate or follow-up on sales leads. Disengagement impacts the very core of our business—guiding our customers along the path to homeownership.
Millennials take over the workforce
Understanding how to leverage you leadership begins with understanding your employees’ needs. Over the years, employee expectations have greatly changed. The recession upended the status quo and workers no longer want a job to simply “clock-in and clock-out” of. They want a career with a purpose.
This is no truer than among the Millennials. According to Pew Research, Millennials (adults ages 18 to 34) surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce in 2015. With so many Baby Boomers retiring, the mortgage industry is being forced to reconcile with a new generation of workers—especially as Millennials move into leadership roles. And it goes way beyond setting up a foosball table or offering the occasional free lunch.
Tapping into the Millennials’ conscious is vital to avoiding high turnover rates. This group is highly fickle when it comes to staying with an employer for more than a few years. In fact, a 2016 Millennial Survey by Deloitte found that one in four Millennials would summarily quit their jobs to join a new organization or to start a new career. If given a two-year wide frame, roughly 44 percent would do so. Millennials were also more responsive to creative or collaborative environments, rather than traditional, or authoritarian workplaces.
Turnover is expensive, so it is imperative to appreciate where Millennials are coming from. While the prospect of personal financial gain is certainly a motivator, Deloitte says that Millennials additionally value an employer’s reputation—both internally, and externally. For example, more than six in 10 of respondents referenced the quality of its products (63 percent) and levels of employee satisfaction (62 percent). Another 55 percent weighed the employer by the level of customer loyalty and satisfaction. So, having disengaged employees on staff may actually harm your recruiting efforts.
“When salary or other financial benefits are removed from the equation, work/life balance and opportunities to progress or take on leadership roles stand out,” the study states, adding that flex time and training also topped the list. “An employer that can offer these is likely to be more successful than its rivals in securing the talents of the Millennial generation.”
Helping employees chart a career path
Let’s go back to the idea of purpose. The majority of employees strive to be more than “paper pushers.” As such, many employees crave professional development opportunities.
In the Deloitte Millennial study, more than 60 percent of respondents felt their “leadership skills are not being fully developed,” and only 28 percent felt that their current employer was making “full use” of the skills they currently held.
In the mortgage industry, this can include one-one-mentorship, technical training or group educational sessions—either on the mortgage industry itself, or about how your mortgage company operates. These sessions—either one-on-one or group-focused, gives employees the ability to share their ideas and build team relationships. In fact, it can be a great opportunity to let your employees in on how their role impacts the overall mission of the organization.
From a manager standpoint, it quite literally pays to pay attention to the wants of their employees. Managers should encourage free and flowing communication, encourage ideas and support the ambitions of their employees, says Deloitte.
While Millennials are often touted with being narcissistic and impatient, they are not alone in their sentiment. Time and time again, employees report feeling excluded from sharing their ideas, and being given opportunities to climb the corporate ladder.
Take a pulse
Most managers don’t set out to be “bad managers.” Some are just overwhelmed with work, are focused on bigger goals within the company, or completely unaware of how their behaviors may be affecting their team.
Taking a pulse on the satisfaction levels of your employees is one of the simplest ways to gather insight into employee satisfaction levels. Partnering with an employee survey company, for example, or creating a survey of your own, are simple ways to gather insight. These surveys are almost always anonymous and give employees an outlet to express their feelings—good and bad—without repercussions.
While setting up these surveys often comes with a price tag, it’s worth the investment. Regular meetings to discuss new regulations and processes or changes to one’s role, can also help managers gauge employee satisfaction in the meantime.
The more communication that is facilitated between managers and employees, the easier it will be to spot choppy waters, before the boat capsizes—or in our case, the house falls in.
Chad Jampedro is the president of GSF Mortgage Corp. With more than 20 years in business, GSF Mortgage has embraced the next generation of homeowners with its GoGSF brand, continuing its dedication to flexible and transparent lending. He may be reached by e-mail at CJampedro@GoGSF.com.
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.