My son rowed for Cal Berkeley for 4 years, helping them win several national championships.   It was a great experience for our entire family. 

Rowers are a special breed. They are superb athletes that commit long hours to be in the best of shape; they think of the team first, not themselves in preparing for a race; and maintain an amazing amount of discipline even under the most adverse situations.  The result is a display of precision, strength and discipline when you see a boat skimming through the water. 

My son had an interesting perspective as a Cal rower.   He observed that a boat of 8-rowers goes as fast as the slowest rower on the boat.  In short, if one of the members of boat is not up to the same level as the other members, the boat will underperform.    The weakest rower will reduce the performance of the other 7 rowers.
How might we use my son’s perspective to manage our companies, employees and loan officers? 

The quality of senior management drives the entire performance of a firm.  A typical mid-sized mortgage company will be organized with a CEO and a CFO, VP of Sales, Operations, and CIO. If one of these key managers is a poor leader or lacks strategic initiative, the remaining team’s performance will be impacted. 

For example, if the VP of Mortgage Operations mis-manages their responsibilities, resulting in poor customer service and processing errors, there could be cascading results on sales and a weaker financialoutcome.  We’ve all seen the results of a “train wreck” in mortgage operations:  Sales people move to better run companies; customers find another originator; and investors push buy backs back on lenders.

A vibrant enthusiastic sales force that is consistently producing loans is critical to the success of a mortgage company as well.  The VP of Sales is responsible for recruiting top performers and ensuring his team maintains production volumes that meet corporate goals.   Loan officers with negative attitudes and substandard production volumes can occupy the time of support staff and drag on even the best loan officers.  Production standards consequently drop and the top tier loan officers end up leaving.  The sales manager, like a rowing coach, needs to quickly cut the weak link (s) and replace them with stronger team members.

We’ve heard the saying “hire slow and fire fast”.  If part of your team is weak and not performing, ditch them quickly.  The performance of your company depends on it.

HERE is a video of the 2007 collegiate rowing championship in New Jersey.