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The opportunity to lead others toward success is one of the greatest privileges any career can offer. For mortgage managers, the importance of this responsibility cannot be overstated. The key to growing production is to drive the performance and retention of loan officers. So what’s the secret? How do managers empower their teams to reach their full potential? The answer lies in employee engagement.

The Corporate Leadership Council recently conducted a study on the effectiveness of employee engagement in American business, surveying over 50 industries and 50,000 employees. The results prove what great managers already know: there is an incredibly strong correlation between employee engagement and performance.

This study breaks a work force into five tiers: unengaged and non-committed, unengaged but leaning toward engagement, neither engaged nor unengaged, engaged and looking to grow, and fully engaged and committed. If we take out the fully committed and fully uncommitted employees, we are left with the team members who are looking to be impacted. How leaders choose to handle this 76% of their workforce will greatly impact the success of their organization. 

Without proper motivation, direction and guidance, these employees will either stagnate or regress. Contrarily, by putting some vital practices into play, leaders can elevate their sales teams into a higher bracket of commitment and performance.

At XINNIX, we’ve seen incredible results for managers when they become intentional about employee engagement. Leaders have experienced a lift of 2-4 units per month, a 100-300% increase in production, a 108% increase in applications, a 274% increase in weekly prospecting, a 20% higher retention rate, and hired 17 recruits within 90 days that accounted for over half a billion dollars in production. 

How did these managers achieve this phenomenal success? They implemented the following best practices into their everyday business. 

PLANNING

Highly effective leaders are exceptional planners. They create the map that leads their teams to reach their production goals. They do more than plan for themselves as they also recognize the importance of developing a sales team of planners as well. 

Executives need to ensure that each of their branch managers have a business plan, and managers need to ensure the same for each of their loan officers. Every member of a sales force should understand the overall goal of their team, and they should determine what their role is in making that goal attainable. Leaders then need to work with each team member so they are taking the proper steps for fulfilling that role and, in turn, helping their entire team hit their greater target of production.  

This all starts with the business plan. Whenever leaders have their teams create business plans, they need to look for key information. First, what is an employee’s business vision? This involves where they would like to see themselves in the future, approximately three to five years down the road. 

Next, learn their business goals for the upcoming year. Loan officers should specify their desired income, their desired production, the number of units they want to sell, and their anticipated mix of purchase and refinance business. 

Most importantly, employees need to create a strategy for how they will achieve these goals. They should specify what sources they will use and how many units they plan to get from each source. 

Lastly, the business plan needs to include the tactics for achieving each strategy, broken down into daily, weekly and monthly activities. By helping employees break down overall production goals into smaller, more manageable steps, leaders are setting their loan officers up for success.   

MEASURING

If leaders are measuring production only, they’re missing the mark. Instead, they want to focus on the predictable steps that lead to production. By monitoring how well their loan officers are meeting the daily, weekly, and monthly activities and goals designated in their business plan, managers can identify the strengths and weaknesses of each individual member of their team and what they can do to improve performance. 

Loan officers should track the specific referral partners they are contacting. How many are Key Targets, partners that have the long-term potential to get them the most business? Additionally, how is a loan officer’s prospecting activity contributing to their production? Are they making the right number of calls and face-to-face meetings? 

By paying attention to these incremental objectives along the way instead of solely looking at final production numbers, leaders can do much more to diagnose problems and empower their sales force to reach their goals.

COACHING  

In athletic coaching, a coach focuses on behaviors that reflect poor execution. In business, we should consider employing the opposite approach. Professional coaches will focus on what their employees are doing right. By highlighting the strengths of a team member, managers can give them the confidence they need to move forward.

In turn, the employee is open for more feedback on how to grow. After all, an effective leader is the one who has high expectations and motivates their employees to reach these goals. 

One important way to achieve this result is through scheduled one-on-one coaching sessions. By holding scheduled accountability meetings with individual loan officers, managers have the chance to show their loan officers they are valued, address issues and concerns, and inspire improved performance.

Start by opening with something positive. Praising the successful elements of a loan officer’s performance lets them know the manager is on their side and wants them to succeed. 

Secondly, ask them powerful questions. A powerful question is one that causes an employee to pause and think. Being an effective leader doesn’t mean telling others what to do. Instead, leaders should focus on getting others to tell themselves what they must do. Powerful questions include, “How have you grown over the past year? What have you learned from this situation that will make you better? What will it take for you to reach that goal?” 

Lastly, managers should close every coaching meeting with accountability. This is a chance for them to reinforce a loan officer’s goals and motivate them to meet those goals.

Leaders should get specifics on the what, when, and how: “What are going to do? When will you do it? How will I know it’s done?” This will remind team members of their main objectives and the timeframe in which they need to complete them. 

Effective leaders are both transactional and transformational. They are involved in details, but they are also focused on leading people.

By developing a clear plan for employees to follow and serving as a role model, a manager can have a massive impact on reaching the 76% of employees waiting to be fully engaged. Their responsibility to lead will affect much more than production. 

When leaders really believe their entire sales force is capable of greatness, they will follow. How do you lead a productive sales team?  Engage them. Be intentional. 

 

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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