Bob Mansur, CMB, AMP: Are Your LOs Behaving the Way You Expect?

Bob Mansur, CMB, AMP, is a mortgage industry veteran and the Managing Partner of Credit Employee Performance Solutions. CEPS changes behavior to increase productivity and reduce risk in the mortgage industry so company leaders can sleep peacefully. They do this by analyzing, recommending and implementing the six critical elements of employee performance to overcome current and future challenges and transferring to your leadership the knowledge and skills to perpetuate that success. He can be contacted at or 317-517-1892.

(This is the second of a four-part series.)

Bob Mansur, CMB, AMP

The first article of this series addressed the use of behavioral activities as enabling goals. Their purpose:  to help LOs who were struggling to reach the production goals to which you and they had agreed. This follow-up piece looks at management’s additional actions to consistently communicate about those observable activity goals.

“Catch people doing something right.”

Ken Blanchard turned this statement into a successful book with more than a million copies sold. It was dedicated to using praise to empower people: workers, family members, mentees, and anyone else who looks to you as an authority figure.

But it raises the question, “How do people know what’s right?” In the work environment, setting expectations is one of management’s most valuable responsibilities. How we establish and administer those goals is crucial to helping LOs, particularly those struggling to be successful.

Setting behavioral expectations for your LOs requires you to perform three steps: clearly identify the standard, provide feedback against the standard, and manage consequences for achieving or failing to meet the standard. Bottom line: without a standard against which to compare actual performance, you’re in no position to judge success.

An example of a common, quantifiable standard for LOs is, “Get four loans a month for $800,000 in volume.” You know there are people in your organization who will often meet and sometimes exceed that goal. If you’ve read the first article in this series, you’ll recall that these people do not need behavioral action goals. They already have a process to succeed. Leave them alone as long as they’re operating legally, morally, and ethically.

But those who aren’t yet meeting that quantifiable standard aren’t  practicing a standard, productive process. That’s where you make a difference in their success.

It’s important to understand that no process, no matter how well developed, is going to work every time with every customer. The purpose of a process is to repeatedly apply behaviors that provide the likelihood of consistent success. Even with the best structured process, exceptionally good hitters in major league baseball are deemed successful if they get a hit three times out of every ten at bats. That’s a .300 batting average and includes seven unsuccessful attempts.

A process is made up of multiple behaviors, defined as “any action you can see or hear”. Raising an LO’s performance depends in large part on their ability to handle change. You might want their performance to improve by introducing one behavior at a time or you might prefer incorporating multiple new behaviors simultaneously. As an example, consider own your golf game. Most of us can manage only one adjustment before adding another: shift your weight from one foot to the other, turn the head of your club, keep your head down. Try to change all of those at the same time and we tie ourselves in knots. Gradual progress with the process is truly better than no progress. Progressively adjusting single behaviors until they become almost habitual is a more effective method. Then you can add another valuable behavior.

As a leader, you benefit from setting observable behavioral expectations using a four-part structure.

  1. Describe the action you want to see or hear: “Contact the customer through their acceptable methods of communication.”
  2. Set the frequency of each action: “ Contact the customers at least twice weekly unless they’ve asked for more frequent updates or you have new information for them.”
  3. Explain why you expect this behavior: “This action will build a trusting relationship with your customer that contributes to earning their loyalty.”
  4. Identify the benefit to your LO: “With that loyalty, the customer is more likely to complete the origination process with you.”

No, devising behavioral expectations is not as easy as, “four loans per month”. The effort, however, gives your struggling LO a map to follow to better results.

So, you’ve set an observable action you expect the LO to perform. The key word here is “observable”. Because your role now changes to observing what the LO is doing against the behavioral standard you have set.

Your observation can come through multiple channels. The most accurate is to watch and listen to the LO. There’s nothing better than first-hand experience. You can also require the LO to quantify their conduct by documenting each time they perform in completing the action. The depth of that documentation is up to you and may depend on whether and how much you want the LO to learn. She or he can simply count each experience. Another, deeper method is to require your salesperson to write down the date and time of each call. You might even want them to summarize the result(s) generated by their use of the behavior. What a great way to learn from experience, the best teacher.

Now, the behavioral standard is established. You’ve observed, when possible, the LO’s performance. You may be documenting the LO’s use of the behavior. And, of course, you’re assessing the quantifiable results of the behavior change(s) through results (e.g., leads, applications, sales, etc.). What’s left?

The strongest influence on behavior is feedback. Are you skilled and prepared to take the time to give honest reinforcing or constructive feedback? Let’s explore that question with the next article in this series.

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at