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  • Writer's pictureJulie Piepho, CMB


I’m on the board of an animal rescue non-profit and each month we bring in our directors or first line managers to give us reports on their departments. We do some of our meetings via zoom and some are in person. I started noticing these young people would come in, who are very passionate about their positions and animal welfare, would be looking down at the table, having minimal eye contact, and having low volume in their voice giving their reports.

As I started watching Generation Z people and even people that came out from the Pandemic who came back into the office, I noticed a majority of first level managers have no idea how to stand out or have a great personal presence. They are used to looking at personal devices and not interacting with people. They were allowed to not put their camera on in zoom meetings so even interacting with people via zoom wasn’t a skill they learned.

As leaders, we need to teach our managers the skills for our new upcoming leaders how to stand out and have personal presence. It will reflect on the company and give the individual the confidence they will need/want to pursue increasing job promotions. 

When we interview individuals for positions, we generally look for the soft skills in first level managers or leaders: communication skills, teamwork, leadership, time management, adaptability, problem solving, critical thinking, work ethic, creativity and emotional intelligence.  However, we can’t even interview for these skills if we can’t get past the first impression skills.

We need to look for these first impression skills of room presence, engagement, posture, eye contact, phone use, to name a few. These first impression skills have not been taught at all in any venue unless you went to a cotillion class when you were young.

We can help our upcoming managers and leaders by teaching them these skills and reinforcing them every time we interact with them. It will pay off in the long run.  They are the future and face of your company, especially with social media. It is said Generation Z is more concerned about job performance. They may have some concentration issues due to their device use, but it can be overcome with ongoing coaching.

We can help you with these skills for your potential new managers or new leaders. One-hour or two-hour workshops with break-out sessions are available. On-going coaching is also available. 

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

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1 Comment

Jeff G
Jeff G
Jun 11

Absolutely, Julie! I remember a time when we had an excellent candidate on paper for an open position. However, they insisted on being fully remote, including for the interview process, and weren't willing to come into the office for a face-to-face interview. Needless to say we passed.

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