Recognizing Your Team

With the overwhelming loan volume that we’ve been experiencing and the potential strain on office morale, there is a tremendous need to attend to our assistants, processors, underwriters, and operations staff. We should all be trying to compensate the staff for their extra time and effort in this busy market. I have heard stories from people at several companies about their overwhelmed back offices. This includes their processors bringing loans home nightly, tempers raging, and underwriters and closers working well into the night and weekends. It’s all management can do to maintain the situation before the support staff burns out. As loan originators, we can make a difference. These people make us look good and help us get through the tough times. Do something nice for your staff. Recognize that you are the one reaping the bulk of the financial rewards.

I recently saw how stressed my assistants had become from the day-to-day grind in their work and personal lives. We are experiencing the same hectic work environment as everyone else with volume-related issues and it was beginning to take a toll. It was apparent that I needed to do something to show that I cared, that I knew what they were going through.
I created what I thought would be a great experience for my team. At 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, I called a quick office meeting. I told them to grab their jackets and purses, go downstairs to the building’s entrance, and prepare for a “field trip.”

Awaiting them downstairs was a black-stretch limousine. Their driver took out an envelope and read them a letter I had prepared in advance. The letter explained that they had gone above and beyond all expectations and that I wanted them to take a little time off for themselves. The driver then gave them each an envelope containing two things—a personalized note expressing my gratitude for continuing to make our office and my business a success, and cash. He took them to the designer outlet mall to shop and have lunch. They were told that I had one stipulation—they could only spend the money on themselves. Meanwhile, I would cover the phones while they were away.

Shortly after they left, I received a call from the limo with three excited women. They were ecstatic. This was completely unexpected and needless to say, well deserved. But it wasn’t the money or the limo ride that made the real difference. It was simply the fact that someone took the time to recognize their hard work and dedication.

My loan manager, Pam Mahoney, said, “Words can’t describe how great this was! To be told you have to leave your job on company time to go shopping and have lunch was the second greatest thing that ever happened to me, (the first was marrying my husband). I honestly feel that I am being recognized for my efforts!”

Joanne Flaherty said, “I truly feel appreciated. It was such a nice gesture. It was time away from the office in one of the busiest markets in history and Mike is taking time away from his job by answering the phones and taking messages for us while we are out having fun.”

“This was just incredible,” said Dawn Pirrotta, coordinator of client services. “It came out of nowhere and I still can’t believe it. We had a blast seeing each other out of the office environment, and now feel that we truly make a difference and are being rewarded for it.”

You should have seen them when they came back from their trip. They walked back into the office with lots of shopping bags. And from what they told me it was truly an adventure. They had many stories about what they did, where they shopped, and how the limo drove through the Burger King drive-thru.

The assistants got out of the office together. They had such a fun time bonding in a non-work related environment and realized that they were important to the day-to-day success of this office. But what I think made the most difference is that they knew they were appreciated and that they were given this “field trip” during working hours. I realized that it wasn’t necessarily the best use of my time as a loan officer to cover the phones, copy, and fax for several hours, but it was definitely good for them and, in the long run, for me as well.

This brings home the reality that most of the office staff in mortgage companies are probably overworked to some extent. Recognizing your team doesn’t have to include a limo ride or shopping trip. You just need to find the best way to show them that they are appreciated and that what they do every day makes a difference.

By Michael Dunsky