Jan Priem is director of human resources at Inlanta
Mortgage Inc. She joined Inlanta in January 2009 and has
more than 30 years of human-resources experience. Priem
has maintained a senior professional human-resources
certification since 2001 and is a member of the Society
for Human Resource Management and MRA, the Management Association, where she participates in roundtables,
committee panels, strategic retreats on human-resource
strategies, and management best practices. Reach her at
Pave the Way to Career Growth
Employee development is critical to company success
By Jan Priem
Attracting and retaining talent remains a huge part of a mortgage company’s abil- ity to excel and prosper in today’s busi- ness environment. Although competitive
compensation and benefits remain an integral part
of why originators choose to stay with a company, to
keep top talent, it has become increasingly important
to show them how they can grow, develop and contribute to the company over time.
A generation or two ago, the world was much
smaller than it is today. When someone entered the
workforce, there was an implicit — or sometimes
actual — contract between employer and employee
that generally implied that if workers were loyal, they
would be taken care of for life.
An employee who put in their 20-plus years could expect a pension and retirement benefits after a lifetime
of service. In recent years, however, pension and retirement benefits have disappeared and few employees
work for one company throughout their entire career.
Employees are now in charge of their own career paths
and are left to work out their own retirement plans.
Most employers recognize that employee development is important for retaining top performers,
but they don’t always have the necessary time and
resources to devote to each employee’s development
plan. Employee development is essential to employee satisfaction and retention, however, so making the
time and finding these resources should be a high
priority for all employers.
Nowhere is this truer than in the mortgage industry,
which depends heavily on high-producing originators
n Differentiating yourself from competitors. Having a career-development plan can be an added
value for employees. Whether you are looking to
hire new talent or keep your current originators
happy, investing in quality training and development shows you have more to offer them than your
n Enticing and keeping younger workers. Gen Xers
and millennials see learning new skills and personal
growth as top priorities — even over pay increases.
With many originators reaching retirement age, it is
important to appeal to these generations to ensure
the longevity of your company and the mortgage
industry as a whole.
n Decreasing turnover. If employees do not feel
they have opportunities at your company, they will
find them elsewhere. Have career-planning discus-
sions during annual reviews or schedule separate
one-on-ones with employees.
n Retaining key employees. It’s critical to identify
future rising stars and put them on a path to success
with your company. Remember, other people are
probably recruiting the heck out of your star employees. Give them a good reason to stay.
Before putting an employee-development plan
in place, you must have absolute buy-in from senior
management. Without support from the top, there is
little incentive for the rest of the company to stick to
development initiatives. The bulk of the work will fall
on human resources (HR), but managers will need to
keep the ball rolling and keep employees engaged in
the process. Even then, the drive to keep a program
like this alive really belongs to the employees.
So, what are some ways to structure an employee-development plan? First, consider creating a tiered
system for each position in a given department. Every
tier should have specific training and metrics built into
each position. This can create a path for employees
to attain both status and pay increases within their
own department, which is important for non-sales
This method also allows employees to see how
their current position leads into future opportunities
to move up the ranks. When employees can see what
they are working toward, it can increase their motivation to achieve it.
Another option for non-sales employees is to allow
them to “intern” for a month or two with another department. This can provide the employees an opportunity to learn more about the overall function of the
company and gain valuable insight into how their job
duties affect other departments. It also allows employees to find what they are good at and find the job they
really love at your company, not someone else’s.
For sales teams, you can provide levels that are
based not only on production, but also on how originators interact with other departments through file
quality, follow-through, etc. Basically, this system can
reward sales people for being good corporate citizens.
To help originators succeed, provide continuous
coaching and motivation to keep them focused, and
give them goals to work toward beyond just sales
n Loan-originator intern — An entry-level position
for someone just licensed or out of training.
n Loan originator — A position set by years of
service and average production.
n Senior loan Originator — A position set by years
of experience and sustained volume numbers.
Branch manager, regional manager and vice president of business development could round out the
advancement levels for those wishing to pursue a
career of managing others. Originators not wishing to
Checklist for building an
Continued on Page 64 >> n Get buy-in from upper management;
n Work with managers on implementation;
n Create job tiers tied to training and performance;
n Encourage employees to cross-train;
n Provide managerial and non-managerial
n Help employees create career maps; and
n Provide training resources to aid advancement.