At APM, we view loan officers and branch managers as entrepreneurs. Why? Because that’s what they are! Being an employee-owned firm through our Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP), we want our team members to take their business as far as they want it to go. That type of autonomy, while providing the support and resources loan officers need to be effective, is what makes APM different.

The ownership mentality revolves around a few key principals.

Trust – everyone works better when they know they can trust those at every level of the organization. This applies to bosses, branch managers, loan officers, support staff and administrative associates. It’s a lot easier to accomplish tasks when the team is working toward a common goal, with the understanding that each member is doing their part. Organizations thrive when you’re all on the same page, know you’re trying your best and believe everyone else is doing the same.

Communication – open, honest, direct. That’s the best type of communication you can have. Operate from this place, and encourage others to do the same. Even the best communication techniques can sometimes result in confusion or misunderstandings. It’s these times where the ownership mentality will shine through as you strive for clarity, empathy and understanding from the other side. Ultimately, communication is what binds us together, so be sure yours is top notch.

Objectivity – remember that miscommunication we just talked about? It happens. As do personality clashes, differences in opinion and work styles. I know there will be certain tasks and individuals you gravitate toward simply because you’re you. Others will do the same. Here’s the thing, though. We don’t learn, we don’t grow and sometimes we don’t even accomplish what we set out to do if we default toward what is familiar and comfortable. So operate from a place of being fair and balanced. Make sure everyone’s voice is heard. See the good in each person, and see the opportunity in their weaknesses. Remaining objective keeps you focused on the task, rather than playing favorites. Plus, taking emotion out of decision-making is the easiest way to ensure you’re on the path toward a successful outcome.

Accountability – speaking of success, it comes from a mixture of healthy accountability and teamwork. Use your excellent communication skills to make sure everyone is connected and on the same page. And encourage the ownership mindset in others. This isn’t so much about “group think” as ensuring that your whole team’s culture is built on the foundations of trust, communication, objectivity and accountability. Then hold each other to it. Ask for help when you need to, feedback often and explanations when they’re warranted. Be each other’s biggest cheerleaders, but do so knowing we all have a part to play in the company’s success.

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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