NMP - April 2017 - 44

Lykken on Leadership

Developing Your People: How to Turn Your Employees Into Leaders
BY DAVID LYKKEN

APRIL 2017 n National Mortgage Professional Magazine n

NationalMortgageProfessional.com

44

n the mortgage industry,
very few people start out
as seasoned professionals.
There's a learning
process-a journey of
growth that starts with
little knowledge of the industry
and even less skill in operating
within it. Think back on your
own career and consider how
far you've come. I'd be willing to
be bet that you are much further
along now than you were when
you began.
Even though we understand
that people develop over time,
we often do our recruiting as if
we expect people to come into
the industry with all the skill and
expertise that only experience
can give. As leaders in the
industry, we all need to take a
more active role in developing
our people into better
professionals. If our people
don't move beyond their initial
capabilities, the responsibility is
ours just as much as it is theirs.
In my consulting business, I
spend a great deal of time and
energy training organizations
how to develop their employees.
Leadership expert John Maxwell
has an excellent model for
helping employees grow, and I
adapt this scheme as a
framework for mortgage
companies. There is a process
that all employees go through in
moving from good to great, and
I would like to briefly go over
that process here.

I

"As leaders in the industry, we all need to take a more active role in developing our
people into better professionals. If our people don't move beyond their initial
capabilities, the responsibility is ours just as much as it is theirs."

When an employee first starts
off within an organization, and
especially if they are just getting
started in the industry, they
enter into what Maxwell calls the
"Directing" stage. Basically,
employees at this stage need
constant supervision. They need
to be told what to do and when
to do it. Otherwise, they will be
lost. Now, don't misunderstand
me. When I'm explaining this
process, leaders in many
organizations I train often jump
to the conclusion that such
employees are bad employees.
However, employees at this
stage are not bad employees
any more than infants that can't
feed themselves are bad human
beings. It's perfectly natural for
new employees to start off
needing help to get their
bearings. In fact, if a new
employee comes in and thinks
they know everything, that could
present even more problems.
Don't think of employees at this
level as know-nothings. Rather,
think of them as empty vessels
waiting to be filled. Anyone who
is willing to learn is able to be
taught. Employees at the
"Directing" level may fall into

this category. As leaders in the
industry, we need to pay extra
attention to them and play much
more of a hands-on role in their
development. They are going to
need all the help they can get.
After they've spent a little
time in your organization,
employees will enter into the
"Coaching" stage of their
development. At this stage,
they've learned a little about the
job and-just as importantly-
they've gained the respect of
other employees. As employees
develop within your
organization, they'll build
relationships that give them
social equity in decision-making.
Employees at this stage will just
start to form those relationships
that give them the power to
influence others in your
organization. At this point, they
will need encouragement and
guidance from leaders more so
than they need instruction. In
my experience, employees at
this level will be much like
children entering into
adolescence. They'll starting
finding themselves in the
awkward space between
maturity and inexperience.

They'll need to take more
initiative but, at the same time,
recognize their limits. This
stage, for many employees, is
the turning point; it's the hump
that all employees must get
over to succeed. Your
employees will need you at this
point to help them become the
leaders you know they can
become.
The third stage of employee
development is what Maxwell
calls the "Supporting" stage.
At this point, employees have
grown into reliable individuals
who can be trusted to make
important decisions within your
organization. They no longer
need supervision, and they
rarely even need guidance.
They can do it all on their own.
At this point, employees will be
getting good results for your
organization. Employees at this
stage will often be your best,
most profitable producers. The
more employees you can get
to this level, the better off you
will be. If you can get fifty
percent of the employees in
your organization to this stage,
you will be a cut above the
competition for sure. Not only


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