In 2008, the housing crisis meltdown occurred, and I was President of the Colorado Mortgage Lenders Association. The theme for my convention that year was, “Got…Passion?”. As we were all reeling with what was happening to the housing finance industry, we knew we needed to have passion about our industry to make it through.
Today is like 2008 in many regards. We do have tighter regulatory controls, so the financial markets aren’t collapsing as they were. However, amidst the continued mergers and acquisitions and other market woes, they are all contributing to an air of defeat in 2023.
I just came back from a cruise where a large majority of the ship’s employees are foreigners, and they proudly wear their name tags and the country they are from. Most of them sign up for nine-month contracts and are on the cruise ship the entire time. Working long hours and with only one day off each week. What resonated most is how they all have an endearing passion about their jobs---they are smiling, they are always asking if there is anything else we need, if something can be better, they know our drinks to bring us during cocktail hour, and they know our name. They work in many different capacities on the ship, both during the day and at night. Despite the ruggedness of the job, regardless of the shift or the role, they remained passionate about their job.
Are we as leaders passionate today about our companies and our industry? I’m hearing a lot of resignation and fear out there. Everyone has cut employees and surface costs. Yes, it will be another tough year. However, we can still be passionate about our companies, our industry, and to our employees. Which will then resonate with our customers. Here are a couple of thoughts on how you can do this today.
Engage with your employees through a monthly town hall. Share with them what value added ideas you want to engage with them that spreads the vision of the company. Ask for feedback. The vision of the company stays the same – during positive or negative times. Inspire that passion about continuing to build a company, that is second to none.
Be the expert on the market cycles within the housing finance industry. Be that person who is quoted in the press, TV, blogs, news, etc. about how the industry will recover. Be the positive narrative. Remember, the passionate person will be called upon more than the doomsayer.
Is now a time for that project, that doesn’t cost dollars, but is employee powered, that will make the company more efficient or give a cutting edge to? Shine the light on it, with the people to lead it with the expected outcome. Bring an air of excitement and passion for the people to succeed.
Cross training can be done in some areas now. I understand this may not be feasible for some departments, but I believe you will be quite surprised which employees might jump at the chance to learn how to do a job in servicing, for example, and they are now a closer. Multi-functional people will add value to us and bring some passion to employees, resulting in higher job satisfaction.
Keep your door open for your employees to let them know you’re passionate about the company and them. It’s the perception – most probably won’t utilize it – but they will know you want to hear about what’s going on and what might be a great idea! I know one CEO who used to come in late afternoon, physically close his door so no one knew he was in and he wouldn’t be bothered. There was not any passion coming from him to his employees. Be visible.
We don’t have to be the happy go lucky, positive, everything is going to be all right person. However, we can build that passion within ourselves and our company for our employees to feel and engage in. They, too, will want to wear their name tags proudly with their names and what position they have, as they will be passionate about working for their company! Altogether, providing your team the advantage, when the market does turn.
I left my term in 2009 as President of the Colorado Mortgage Lenders Association with this rallying cry and it is still used today in Colorado! “It’s a GREAT day to be in the mortgage industry!”
Julie Piepho, CMB, is a Principal Consultant with BlackFin Group in the Mortgage Strategy Practice. Julie is nationally recognized as a Mortgage Strategy Consulting expert with over four decades experience leading and coaching sales and operations teams while in executive roles at Cornerstone Mortgage, Norwest Mortgage and Wells Fargo Mortgage. She holds the prestigious Master Certified Mortgage Banker designation from the Mortgage Bankers Association. For more information on how we can help contact firstname.lastname@example.org