Taylor Stork, the COO at Developer’s Mortgage Company discusses the best practices for managers in delegating to their staff.
- Assigning responsibilities with authority and ownership;
- Work flow and human capital issues;
- Coach and develop other people and key to delegation is teach back.
You will enjoy listening to Taylor share is personal story and how he used delegation.
Best Practices For Managers In Delegating To Their Staff With Taylor Stork
Our topic is best practices for managers in delegation practices. It’s such a critical topic. I’m thrilled to have Taylor Stork with us. Taylor is the Chief Operating Officer for Developer’s Mortgage Company. Prior to that, Taylor was with Home American Lending, Bank of America, and a series of other lenders.
Pat, how are you?
Hi Taylor, Welcome to the podcast, can you tell us how you got into mortgage banking?
Like so many people, I got into it completely by accident. I grew up in Southern California. I went to college and got a degree in Finance, thinking that one day, I would land on Wall Street and become a titan of the financial industry. I did not end up on Wall Street and did not become a titan. As I was getting close to graduating, I didn’t have a great plan for what I was going to do next. My sister had been in the mortgage business. She had trained up someone who then became a manager. That manager had kept an eye on me. When I came of age to exit college and enter the working force, that manager grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and yanked me into mortgages.
Is your sister still in the industry?
She’s the Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Association of REALTORS.
What a small world, for sure. You are the Chief Operating Officer. Talk about what challenges you faced.
In the job that I have, I’m a Jack of all trades, master of 1 or 2 but probably not. What I am faced with is a myriad of challenges from every different angle. That’s probably true for many people that are in smaller to mid-sized companies. We tend to wear many different hats often, regardless of what our job title is. For me, it is a combination of balancing challenges within the workflow and a scarcity of qualified workers, particularly in the credit and operations space.
We are watching a unique interest rate environment, which is destined to change pretty soon. We are doing things within our space to prepare for a rising interest rate environment where I believe we will experience a greater degree of margin compression and competition than we have had any time, As refinances begin to falter, A lot of the work I’m doing is foundational work to try to prepare my organization to be successful in a different business environment than we are in.
That’s a challenge in itself, which leads to my next question. What surprises you about 2022?
The surprises are unique to this model. The scarcity of qualified employee workers is probably the biggest surprise. It is harder than ever to find great underwriters and other positions within the workflow. Historically, our focus has always been trying to recruit loan officers, salespeople, sales management, and sales leadership.
It’s a unique period in that our focus has completely shifted. It’s not just us. This is every company out there. Our focus has completely shifted toward the workflow and the staff that supports the workflow itself. The scarcity is not with loan officers. It’s with qualified processors, underwriters, and closers. That’s an interesting dynamic.
Interestingly, you say that because I would agree with you 100%. That’s what we saw from a training perspective. We have been training many production sales support, including processes and closers that are new to the industry. How do you stay on top of all the changes within mortgage banking? That’s a topic unto itself.
I leverage social media, the MBA, and the CHLA. I get a ton of emails from different news publications. There are a couple of influencers that I follow online to listen to what they are talking about. Dave Stevens is a key one. Scott Olson is another one. Both are on the leading edge of what’s taking place in the regulatory space. I’m keeping a very close eye on what’s happening with FHFA, Fannie, Freddie, and the GSEs.
There are some major seismic changes that are happening to the industry that some of the industry leaders, company owners, and executives are aware of but I’m not sure that the changes have been digested by the industry as a whole. We are watching massive changes to the way Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac operate and what they will do that are going to have far-reaching implications on homeownership and the value of real estate. It’s surprising to me how quiet things have been in that space but the best way to stay on top of that stuff, for me, is to follow key influencers that are watching it and participating.The best way to stay on top of things is to follow key influencers that are watching them and participating. Click To Tweet
That’s a good point. You raised the traditional question of, “What’s going to happen with the agencies.” That’s always the issue.
It’s not just what’s going to happen with them. It’s also what’s happening within them. They are fundamentally changing how they do business. They are doing it quickly and quietly. It’s something that’s going to impact all of us, and we have to keep our eye on it.
Let’s get into our main topic of talking about delegation. You had a great story that you were telling me. Why don’t you talk about best practices in delegation and how to do it well?
Not a lot of people know this. My close friends know. I’ve talked about it a little bit on social media but I haven’t made too big of a deal about it. Toward the end of 2019, I had a retinal tear and detachment in my right eye, which is an emergency and can lead to permanent loss of sight. Fortunately, for me, that’s not where it led but I had a detachment, which means that the film screen that your eyeball projects images onto tore away from the actual wall of my eye.
The surgery and then the recovery process for that are complicated. Recovery itself takes anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months, depending on your scenario. Most people come through it fine. Their vision is none the worst for it after the fact. My situation was a little unique because not only was my vision obstructed in my right eye for about a three-month period.
Shortly after that, my left eye tore, and I had a series of tears. It tore in total three different times. Each one was successively worse and more complicated. This all happened during COVID when a lot of services were closed and when you couldn’t get visits to an eye doctor for a pair of glasses. You couldn’t even order a pair of glasses.
I went through about a 12 to 15-month period where my vision was partially and sometimes entirely obstructed. Having no vision when most of the work you do in your business is on a computer screen, whether it’s reviewing reports, responding to emails or looking at dashboards, can be a challenge in and of itself. It forced me to relook at what I do and how I do it each day.
A lot of people in our business tend to be doers. A lot of people are entrepreneurial. A lot of us are the people that grab ahold of a problem, sink our teeth into it, solve it, power through it, and move on to the next one. That entrepreneurial spirit is probably a lot of what draws people into this mortgage business in the first place instead of going to work in some of the more traditional monoline business models but when you suddenly can’t see things or you can’t see things well, that can be a challenge.
It forced me to begin to delegate not just my work and not only my tasks but my ownership of various objectives in a different and more meaningful way. It forced me to raise the level of trust, dependency, and accountability with some of the people that I work with to help make sure that everything that needed to get done and that I was responsible for was still getting done.
From a practical standpoint, what would be things that you did differently than you did before?
Most people think about the word delegate or delegation. They think about handing off a task, “Delegate. That means I should tell somebody else to do my work.” I don’t see it that way. There have been a million books and management courses. This is a time-tested conversation but even with all of that, most of us still fall into the old traps, which are to take a task, hand it off to somebody else, and hope that it gets finished.
Email in our world probably exacerbates that problem because, more often than not, people get a task, email it off to somebody else, and say, “Please do this,” and then that’s it. They may or may not ever follow back up on that email and find out that it was done. I look at delegation a little bit differently. I don’t look at it as telling someone else to do something. That delegation is a much more holistic process. It involves assigning responsibility, not work.
That was something that I had to come to grips with because, especially in our business, we like to covet our responsibility. We like to hold onto it and hold it close to our best because we don’t want to give anybody else our responsibility. That’s our responsibility. It’s a thing we own. For me, good delegation is not simply saying, “Do this thing for me.” It’s handing away authority and responsibility over the reason you need the thing done in the first place.
Good delegation is saying, “This is the objective,” and not handing off but redeploying the ownership of that objective to another. I had to do that to a greater level and blindly trust the process of handing it off. What does that mean? It means that instead of handing off a task and saying, “Do this thing,” I had to get comfortable with saying, “I need this entire process completed. I’m going to give you ownership of this entire process.” Doing that can be complicated.
I talk about this with my teams, counterparts, and employees. We all have this bad habit of trying to do things that are faster and easier to do ourselves than if we give them to somebody else. I catch myself and others doing it every day. It’s faster and easier for me to do it than to train somebody else on how to do it. I use that as a test for whether or not something should be delegated. If it’s easier for you to do it than somebody else, that’s probably the thing that you should be training somebody else on how to do in the first place.If it's easier for you to do something than somebody else, that's probably the thing you should be training somebody else on. Click To Tweet
We all have this habit of taking tasks that we find are faster and easier for us to do and doing them rather than training, lifting up a different person, employee or worker to do those tasks and then giving them ownership over those tasks. Why? I would argue that if it’s faster and easier for us to do it, that means we are comfortable doing it. Those items are often things that are of a lower level of importance.
They are things that we have mastered. They are things that we can do quickly and easily. They are things that feel good on a checklist that we can check off during the day and feel like we were functional and productive for the day. Those tasks are usually the things that we should be delegating to other people, and not just the tasks but responsibility for the entire thing that the task is supposed to complete. Your tasks usually add together to complete some objective. It’s the objective that we ultimately care about completing.
I try to challenge my managers and my team to identify the things that they do daily that are quick and easier to do themselves than to hand off to somebody else, and then determine and identify ways that they can train and teach other people to do those things because honestly, if you are not training your next-level-down staff on how to do your job, then you are not growing an organization. All you are doing is being a worker bee.
Every single person in the line of work needs to focus on how they can improve themselves as a knowledge worker instead of accomplishing more work. I had to do that to a much greater degree when I was struggling with my eyesight. I had to do that because I quickly learned that I fundamentally couldn’t do the tasks. I couldn’t look at the computer. I couldn’t review a spreadsheet. I couldn’t read the emails. I had the trust in others to do those things for me.
What was the reaction of the employee? How do you implement it now that you have your sight back? How does that all work?
There are so many great books about this. One book that I read a long time ago is an old book. It’s a great book. It’s The New One Minute Manager. Another book that I’ve read that is impactful is a book by a guy named David Allen called Getting Things Done. If I could recommend two resources to anybody, it would be those two things because they both tackle this problem in a real-world pragmatic way.
The answer to your question is that I was surprised that the employees wanted more authority and wanted more delegated to them. They don’t generally want tasks. They don’t want to be told, “Do something,” but what they do want is an opportunity to own the objective and then work through the tasks to complete the objective. What I tried to focus on is training on the tasks themselves but handing over authority and responsibility for the end objective.
That’s what good delegation is or at least part of what good delegation is. We think historically that delegating is, “Do this thing for me,” but delegating is saying, “You are responsible for this end goal. Let’s talk about how you are going to obtain and achieve that end goal.” When you look at delegating as assigning an end goal, it’s a whole different process because it starts to be more about how you can coach, train, and develop a person through the work to achieve the end goal.
When I’m training people on tasks and eventually on end goals, I try to use a hospital teaching method, which is to show one, do one, and teach one. I will show somebody what I do, have that person do the thing in front of me so I can observe, and then have that person teach me what they did or what they are doing as though I am the neophyte that has no idea, which is often true anyway, and that needs to be trained.
I find that model of having somebody teach it back to you serves the purpose of closing the loop. We all have a bad habit of handing off tasks and responsibilities and never following up on them. That’s the fundamental thesis within The New One Minute Manager, which is that when you delegate away work, whether it’s a task, an objective or an entire responsibility, you still own what you’ve delegated away.
That’s where we, as Managers, often falter. We still own the task, the objective or the project through somebody else. A key component of properly delegating is following up to make sure that what was delegated was accomplished properly and using the process of accomplishing that work as a teaching opportunity.
You can’t hand somebody a task, say, “Do this,” forget about them, and then probably get upset when the task doesn’t get done on time or doesn’t get done the way you want it to. You need to hand it off, train on it, follow up on it, and review it. I would argue that properly delegating anything is probably more work than doing it yourself but that doesn’t negate the need to delegate those functions because that’s how you develop people and organizations.
You shared a lot. Time has flown by. If you had to say two things that you would want our listeners to take away on this topic, what would that be?
Follow up, and don’t let email be the thing that trips you up. Here’s one thing that I always recommend people do, especially when they are handing off a task, a project or an objective. Have your personal follow-up system so that whether it’s a day, a week or a month later, you circle back and close the loop on every single task that’s done.
Whether it’s your employee, your team member or your subordinate, it’s critical that they know not just that you gave them that work but also that you are interested in knowing whether or not they completed the work, how well it went, and what the results were. You have to follow up on everything you give away. Otherwise, you are not delegating. You are just telling people to do stuff for you.You have to follow up on everything you give away. Otherwise, you're not delegating. You're just telling people to do stuff for you. Click To Tweet
That’s a great note to end on. Those are great points that you are making. Thanks so much for sharing them. I want to thank everyone for listening. I appreciate you spending time with us. Thanks so much, Taylor.
Thank you, Pat. It has been my pleasure.
Thanks for listening.. We appreciate you spending time with us. If your sales team needs hiring and lead generation training, schedule a free consultation by emailing me at PSherlock@QFSConsulting.com.
- Developer’s Mortgage Company
- Virginia Association of REALTORS
- The New One Minute Manager
- Getting Things Done
About Taylor Stork
Taylor Stork is the Chief Operating Officer for Developer’s Mortgage Company. A seasoned business executive and Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB), Taylor has over 20 years of experience in the industry and is passionate about enabling home ownership. Taylor is an active member of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and Community Home Lenders Association (CHLA) and serves as an Advisory Council member for the Lenders One Mortgage Cooperative.
Prior to his role with Developer’s Mortgage Company, Taylor acted in senior leadership roles at major national and regional mortgage lenders organizations including MCS Mortgage Bankers, Inc., Continental Bank, Bank of America and American Home Mortgage.
In his free time, you can find Taylor on a tractor on his farm amongst his horses and cows. He holds a BS in Finance from San Diego State University.