Office culture is a major aspect of work satisfaction for every member of a mortgage branch. If it’s taken on a negative feeling, it can lead to decreased work satisfaction, lower productivity, and a decline in employee performance. It can even cause some employees to leave the branch all together in pursuit of a healthier environment. While every member of the branch is responsible for contributing to and creating the overall culture, branch managers set the tone for the office and need to actively promote the culture they want. If managers notice that the culture is becoming toxic, they need to address it and work towards changing it as soon as possible. Here are some telltale signs of a toxic work culture that managers should look out for:
There’s a hyperfocus on sales numbers
One sign of a budding toxic work culture is when employees and managers focus almost solely on performance numbers. Managers have stopped valuing individual employees with strengths and weaknesses and have, instead, categorized them based entirely on performance metrics. In the same way, loan officers may be focused more on their own numbers than on building strong relationships with clients. While numbers are an important way to measure success and track progress, they shouldn’t dictate the entire attitude of your office. Make sure you give your team other ways to recognize their success and demonstrate what is important through your own interactions.
Community is lacking
You’ll notice that, in a toxic work environment, the office no longer has a sense of community. The friendliness among employees has dwindled, and team members are afraid to trust each other. If your team isn’t communicating, relating, and bonding with one another, it’s time to check in. While employees don’t need to be great friends who crack jokes all day, positive interactions fuel a more pleasant attitude for the entire office. Focusing on personality and fit when hiring new employees and keeping up with team building activities are great ways to keep the sense of community strong.
There is poor communication
Successful branch managers know that clear communication with employees is integral to the success of the branch. Managers need to be able to communicate things like branch goals, and they also need to listen to employees’ questions and concerns. Just as important as internal communication, LOs must also be able to communicate effectively with clients. If you notice confusion, misunderstandings, and a lack of clarity between team members or with clients, that’s a sign that this foundational quality is breaking down, and managers need to act right away to improve upon it.
Fear begins to rule
One of the top signs of a work culture gone bad is an increased sense of fear all around. Employees are on edge, and managers lack trust in their team trust. Managers may notice that employees are afraid they’ll lose their jobs. This fear is toxic because it leaves little room for creative and innovative thought. Fear also causes teamwork to decline because employees feel more desperate to climb to the top than to work together. It causes your team members to feel unstable and insecure in their positions. Managers may not immediately realize they’re causing or contributing to this fear-based office culture, but they are often a factor in its development. Make sure you’re confident in your hiring practices, take the time to build relationships with your employees, encourage innovation, and lead by example.
There are unprofessional interactions
If you start to see less professional interactions among your team, it’s often a clue that the work culture isn’t ideal. Whether it’s directly disrespectful interactions or quiet gossiping, this is a warning sign that should be addressed as soon as possible. Managers need to identify where these feelings are coming from and look for solutions. Sometimes, an overly-competitive environment can foster these interactions; other times, the culprit is a lack of team bonding. Managers should also look at their own interactions with employees and make sure they’re conveying the same respect they expect from their team.
There is a high turnover
This is one of the biggest signs of an unhealthy branch culture. If your branch has been experiencing a higher employee turnover recently, it’s worth looking into. Look into your hiring practices and the training and support you offer to employees. Conduct exit interviews when possible to gain insight into people’s reasons for leaving so you can address them.
Rather than avoiding these signs, managers need to spot them and address them proactively before the damage takes a real toll on the branch. By working to shift the culture in a more positive and healthy direction, you can promote your employee’s satisfaction, accountability, and overall performance.