In a world where technology changes on a weekly basis the way we interact with each other, process data, and consume information, there is a drive for companies to find a sustainable competitive advantage through technological means.
That is why the best companies in the world focus on areas that contribute to their success in far greater proportions than simply digital or mechanical superiority.
Chief among these alternative competitive advantages is company culture, and topping the list of the best kinds of cultures is the culture of collaboration. Collaboration by itself is the practice of sharing, debating, and combining thoughts to create an idea that is better than any of the other ideas would be alone. It’s teamwork. A culture of collaboration, therefore, is an environment in which people aren’t only encouraged to participate, but actively engage in a collaborative process on a daily basis.
At Paramount Bank, a culture of collaboration is one of our most powerful advantages in the home loan industry. Along with top-notch technology and the best talent in the country, our culture produces more than just happy employees; it creates a collaborative company in which every individual works towards the common goal of delivering homeownership.
In order to do that, Paramount Bank needed to do a number of things while we built our foundation for success. We knew we had to ensure a strong cultural structure as we brought in the best and brightest. The creation of that foundation includes the following considerations:
1. Our slogan, “Activated,” reminds everyone of our approach to our employees and the technology we use. We are connecting our people with a new dynamic culture that is being built in parallel with our technology. As we surround our employees and customers with new and better technology, we want to make sure our people are also “activated” along with the technology they can use, and not just rely on the latest tech.
2. We let our employees set the culture that they want. Our leaders set the tone, precedent, and standards, for the company, and employees self-select themselves by buying into that culture or not. Once leadership sets the standard it creates a vacuum for employees to authentically come together and embrace, share, and promote what fulfills them professionally. We’re then able to craft and cultivate something that impacts all employees. It is that self-selecting component, encouraged by leadership that brings people in that are willing to help author that culture together.
This also means that our culture doesn’t suffer from the fear of failure. One of the attractive things about a small, entrepreneurial, financial company is that no one is scared to make a mistake. As a collective whole, we know we will stumble, yet we are laying the groundwork for learning from those mistakes and mishaps, dusting ourselves off and delivering a better home buying experience for the next customer.
3. We let different locations develop differently. Leadership sets the overall tone for the business, but each location is going to have a different marketplace that is going to influence their own culture. We can be a dynamic company by having a shared national identity but also letting the local teams execute that identity in a different way that is appropriate. They can define and craft their own identity, with a shared sense of success and entrepreneurial spirit nationally.
This gives us a competitive advantage because that shared vision and shared culture gives everyone a roadmap to establish ourselves and work toward one goal. In a more established firm with multiple units and structures, not everyone is working toward the company goals, they’re all working on separate initiatives or silos of the company, even though they’re under one umbrella.
This collaboration doesn’t end at the edge of a workstation. It includes collaboration between employee and customer, home loan officer and homebuyer, stockholder and realtor. Collaboration throughout the homebuying process.
It goes without explanation that all the best talent and technology is nothing without a culture that properly takes advantage of it. At the center of any culture is the appreciation of the people within it. That is the culture we have, and what we work daily to create and strengthen. I can confidently say that, even if we didn’t have the best talent in the industry, or had to work with second-rate technology, we would still be the great company we are today.
Our collaborative culture gives us a competitive advantage that few companies will be able to match. This is especially true within the home loan industry, an industry that is not particularly known for its focus on culture. We expect this advantage will carry us to many successes, and continue to help us build the team of the future.