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Defining Responsibilities Up-Front — The Bane of Turnover

Doing so creates the correct expectations on both sides

Dave Hershman headshot
Dave Hershman
Defining Responsibilities

The mortgage industry is plagued with rampant turnover, especially on the sales side of the industry. While there are many causes for this condition, I have found that a pretty consistent violation of a basic premise of management and leadership contributes significantly to this turnover. Simply put, it is the lack of specific definition of the responsibilities of the “job.” This dearth of vital communication is essential for successful leadership, yet we rarely see it practiced the way it should be.

When the loan officer’s expectations do not meet the expectations of the manager and/or the company, it is no wonder that a disconnect occurs which many times puts us on a different page from those who work for us. From there it can escalate into mistrust and more. How do we rectify this situation? Here are a few guidelines:

Responsibilities must be defined upfront! Actually, the process should have started during the selection process by accomplishing thorough interviews. When you know your candidates well, you can devote most of your meetings to discussing their feedback regarding the responsibilities that are expected and making sure they are consistent with the candidate’s expectations.

Before the salesperson starts. You must sit down with them and arrive at an agreement regarding what that position is to entail. This is your building block to determine some very important information:

• What support will they need to fulfill their responsibilities? Are you ready to commit to that level of support?

Defining Responsibilities

• What benchmarks are we going to use in evaluating their performance? It is important to note that goals must be broader than “how many loans and when.” What actions are they committing to produce these loans What is the quality of loan applications — including meeting company qualification standards?

• How can this be accomplished in such a way that it will facilitate the achievement of the company’s objectives? We must align the objectives of each individual with the goals of the company.

• What misunderstandings might occur if a loan officer is not in agreement of what is expected?

  • Poor or inconsistent attendance at staff meetings and other functions
  • Lack of support for their processor and other operations staff
  • An unsatisfactory level of customer service given to their clients
  • Completeness of loan applications and packages
  • Quantity vs. quality of pipeline
  • Types of products originated.

Are we talking about a job description? It does not have to be as formal as a job description. A job description typically has general statements such as “process loans.” An agreement might more actually depict the size of the pipeline and expected turnaround. But the expectations should be in writing, perhaps as part of the commission plan document.

Expectations. What we are doing here is creating the correct expectations — on both sides. I have seen so many job situations fall apart because the employer and employee have had differing expectations with regard to job responsibilities. Here are just a few of the areas I have reserved:

  • An originator takes a position. The manager says he expects the originator to work hard. For the originator, the definition of working hard is 30 hours each week. For the manager it is 60.
  • The originator is promised training. For the manager, this is following him around and observing and making comments. The originator was expecting a training program with classes, role-playing and more.
  • An originator is promised help with marketing. To them, this means the company is going to give them leads. To the manager, this means that they will split the cost of some advertising, IF they produce.
  • An originator starts part-time and hopes to move full-time if they can support themselves. The manager expects a transition within 90 days. The loan officer does not expect that time-frame at all.
  • The manager expects ethical behavior and for the originator “staying on the right side of the line” is not getting caught.
  • Two completely different definitions of excellent customer service and complete loan applications.

I could go on and on with the examples, but certainly the point is easy to see. I would like to advance one other important point. You will note that I put the word “job” in parentheses earlier. That is because, while we are talking about a W-2 employee, a key to a successful loan officer career is being an entrepreneur and not treating the position as a job. That is a topic for another day!

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine October 2022 issue.
Dave Hershman headshot
Dave Hershman

Dave Hershman is an author for the mortgage industry with eight books and several hundred articles to his credit. He is also senior vice president of sales for Weichert Financial Services, head of OriginationPro Mortgage School and a top industry speaker.

Published on
Oct 03, 2022
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