Selflessness, passion, commitment and a relentless drive to win – all of these qualities can be attributed to the most successful teams in any sport. Without question, any team who has ever reached the pinnacle of its respective field and won a championship has embodied these traits, because team success is based on complete buy-in by the most important part of any organization – its people.
That’s exactly why those qualities are engrained in the culture we’ve created at United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) and its parent company, United Shore. We’re a company of more than 1,400 people – made up of several different teams that play very different, yet critical, roles to our overall business. Every single person makes an impact on the company, our clients and the industry on a daily basis through their work ethic and attitude. In the grand scheme of things, titles are largely irrelevant. Whether you’re the CEO, an IT specialist or a client service associate, we’re all in this game together, everyone learning and gaining more experience every time we walk through the office doors.
It’s naturally the mindset of any leader in the mortgage industry to chase goals related to business growth – such as working with more homeowners, getting more submissions, faster closings and higher profit margins. But you can never lose sight of what makes all of this possible. Not one single company goal is attainable without all of the team members bringing their “A” game, giving maximum effort each day and playing in sync with one another.
Above all bottom-line objectives, it’s critical that a company’s leaders deliver an environment and support system that encourages every team member to do their best – not just for the company, but for themselves as well. Every professional who works in the mortgage or housing industry has his or her own set of ambitions and career aspirations they’d like to achieve. It’s important that leaders respect this, and understand that the workplace is ultimately a two-way street; it’s a mutually beneficial relationship between the company and the team members who work there.
Just like it’s the responsibility of everyone at UWM to put forth our best effort to help the company grow and reach our overall goals, it’s the responsibility of company leaders to put their team members in the best possible situation to polish their skillset and achieve the balance and career success that they aspire to. Move beyond the work and really get to know the human side of your team members – what motivates them, who inspires them, in what areas they want to improve.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your team members’ hobbies and work-life balance. Your business development leader’s nightly guitar lessons might not seem to be directly related to his or her ability to sign up new clients, but then again, they might have a major impact on their work ethic and attitude. By supporting your team members in the hobbies they enjoy, they’ll be more likely to support your business goals. Find out what people value the most, and don’t automatically resort to using money as a way to drive loyalty. Some team members are more motivated by their free time, while others are driven by recognition for their efforts and successes – it’s up to you to discover what makes everyone tick and adapt your leadership style. It’s this focus on people and relationships that can bring out individuals’ best efforts.
When company goals are thought out and expressed the right way, individual team members don’t view them as some kind of distant, abstract list that is detached from their everyday responsibilities. They can visualize the importance of their own responsibilities and actions within the overall scheme of the organization and take on a sense of ownership, knowing that every small thing they do adds up the big picture of what your company is trying to accomplish.
Something that we’ve really stressed at UWM is that all of us in the housing industry are doing more than what our job description says. We’re not just selling houses, underwriting files or closing loans – we’re changing lives. We’re making dreams come true for thousands of people around the country every single day. Whether you’re talking about the young newlyweds who bought their first house, the family that refinanced their home so they could better afford their other obligations, or the entrepreneurially spirited mortgage broker who is fulfilling her lifelong goal of running a successful business – this industry is about more than houses and loans.
There’s something very empowering about working for something beyond yourself or beyond your company, and realizing that you’re working for the greater good of a community. By packaging that kind of intrinsic connection to the job, your team members are more likely to want to bring the best attitude and work ethic into the office every day. When a real estate agent or mortgage underwriter can look beyond a stack of papers or potential commission check to see the hopes and dreams of the homebuyer, their role transforms from a job into more of a fulfilling vocation.
Great results can be achieved by humanizing the business and focusing your efforts on people, both internally and externally. Just like any championship-caliber sports team, organizational success is achieved by individual team members selflessly uniting in pursuit of a common goal, and in working hard out of commitment to every other person on the team. In the mortgage industry – like in any sport or business venture – you win with people.