What managers can learn from the Phillies’ decline

As some of you know, the Phillies are my hometown team, and I am sad to say, the former champs seem to have fallen on hard times. From 2008 to 2011 they were on fire, winning the World Series and several national league championships. In 2013, they are currently 22 games out of first base with a payroll that is the fourth highest in baseball which is not a very good success ratio. So what went wrong and what can we as managers learn from the team’s mistakes?

While injuries to the star players and an aging core group of players have factored into the team’s poor performance, many baseball analysts believe that the Phillies’ recruiting strategy is to blame. According to sports gurus, when Phillies’ management decided who they would recruit from other teams, they assumed that the “experienced” players would play better on their team and rejected objective information that would indicate otherwise. Many of the mortgage executives I speak with face similar issues when selecting originators and evaluating producers’ sales talent.

Certainly, it is a mystery to me why managers want to hire from their “gut” and not use a more scientific approach. Is it because they believe that since they have done the recruiting, that the new hire must be a star? Or, is it because they don’t have any other candidates and they are at risk for not meeting their hiring budgets? While these reasons are understandable, they don’t make for smart recruiting. The one thing I have learned is that when managers keep hiring predictive failures, sooner or later the team is going to fail.

Whether recruiting for a sports team or selecting a mortgage originator, the task is not easy and requires that the selection process be objective as possible. In the mortgage industry this is especially true since so many managers are producing managers who are terrific sales people but poor judges of talent. When a manager is a sales person at heart, hiring can be difficult because they are optimistic by nature and have difficultly seeing the candidate objectively.

Pre-hire assessments can be invaluable in helping managers identify a candidate’s potential but senior managers must adopt the long-term view that selling talent is critical to success and that experience in a refinance market does not mean originators can sell.

In my opinion, managers who ignore the critical issues of talent selection are leading their sales teams to failure. Senior leadership must train managers on how to hire, what to look for and how to select the best candidate. Is it any surprise that turnover for our industry is so high when managers are recruiting based on gut feelings?

To succeed in a more difficult market environment, companies must have a structured interview process in place that is objective. Too much is at stake to leave hiring to chance.
Is your company’s interview process objective? Are all branches following the same script when it comes to hiring? If not, what are you doing today to change that?