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It is an unfortunate reality that many business leaders get so focused on
satisfying clients and maintaining budgets that they neglect to develop
and nurture their own employees. This is short sighted because a company
is only as good as the teams within.
A mortgage company needs strong origination teams that bring in business and people who process loans efficiently. The corporate office needs
strong marketing, underwriting and compliance as well as senior management teams focused on building the company and managing strategic
Even prosperous businesses can’t thrive without plans that address the
increased demands that come with success and growth. The company needs
to groom future branch managers and senior management. Originators
must demonstrate they understand the needs of their clients and teams and
have the skills to take on greater challenges. And line-level managers must
develop their teams to ensure the group succeeds, even if and when they
move up the ladder.
Reaching the next level
Many employees think that getting to a next-level position is as simple as
doing a great job in their current position. The great admin becomes a loan
assistant; the top loan processor becomes an originator; and the productive
originator becomes the next branch manager.
This progression path can be the case when taking the first step from
individual contributor to team lead, but it is often not the case when
moving from branch management to corporate vice president or from the
VP ranks to senior management. Frustration then sets in when positive
reviews are followed by more positive reviews but the employee never gets
promoted. What causes someone to get “stuck” on the career ladder when
the feedback is glowing?
“Many employees think that getting to
a next-level position is as simple as doing
a great job in their current position.”
The answer is usually simple: The next rung is a different job that requires
broader skills. Perfection in the current position might never lead to the
next rung because the age-old analogy of a career ladder is not accurate.
It is no longer a linear progression because the corporate role is typically
broader and more strategic than the branch manager or originator role.
Setting the baseline
How then can a strong vice president get considered for that senior VP role?
How does a branch manager get a seat at the corporate strategy session?
Where do the skills come from if they are not part of the current job?
The key to moving beyond the top rung of your current ladder is to understand the baseline attributes needed for the level you aspire to reach. Hopefully the skills are enumerated so employees know what is expected at each
job level, but many companies don’t take the time to write out a roadmap.
They don’t realize that cultivating the skills needed in the company often is
just a function of encouraging the development of capable managers.
Having these baselines can help employees understand what is taken into
account when the company considers promotions and how senior management determines strong performers at each level. Most employees are probably already performing at a high level in their current job skills. These same
employees likely can perform as well on a smaller subset of skills needed at
the level above them. The key is to develop a systematic way to evidence
the skills required for promotion but not yet needed in the current position.
Acquiring senior-management skills
To become a highly functioning senior-management team member requires most employees to learn a new set of strategic skills. It is possible to
build these skills by practicing specific tactics connected to that attribute
while performing your current duties.
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