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Leading Through Change

With each change, there will be a grieving process.

Dave Hershman headshot
Dave Hershman

It seems like the only constant in this industry is change.  In my almost 40 years within this industry (yes I started when I was seven years old), I have seen plenty of change. But what strikes me is that the pace of change accelerates more quickly every day.   It took sixty years for records to become obsolete.  It took only twenty years for cassettes to fall by the wayside.  Now we have the successor to CDs—DVDs and they are becoming obsolete as well.  The power of computing doubles every eighteen months.  Interest rates and the stock markets are more volatile each year.  

And all of this was true before the pandemic hit.  Nothing changed our business more suddenly than COVID.  It accelerated technological change as we had to adjust to doing business remotely.  But it also charged us into the biggest refinance market of them all and a real estate market like no other as well.  Never before could we not find enough homes for sale for our borrowers and never before have prices risen so drastically—even during the real estate boom of fifteen years ago. 

As the refinance boom fades, we are likely to see even more mergers and acquisitions, which points to even more change. Nothing is more daunting than working for an independent mortgage banker for ten years and then being part of a huge bank overnight (or the opposite). 


What Does This Mean?

As a manager, you will have to lead through change.  With each change losses will be suffered and there will be more obstacles to overcome. There will be a grieving process. There will also be challenges and positive opportunities.  However, we cannot ignore the losses and grief that will be suffered. 

J. Shep Jeffreys, in Coping with Workplace Change, identified these example cases:

  • The Survivor
    • They are gone, I have survived.  Why do I feel guilty?
  • Where Do I Belong?
    • I don’t recognize this organization.  I feel lost.
  • Fear of the Unknown
    • Being laid off was a relief after not knowing for 18 months


How Can You Help?

The question is—how do you deal with these cases of change?  You must recognize the stages of grief and let it run its course.   Grief cannot be stopped, nor can the process be accelerated.  Understand their feelings:  shame, guilt, loss, aloofness, and distrust.  Facilitate communication: let everyone know what you know (when this is possible and without losing their trust).  Develop a trust with your employees so that they believe what you are telling them. It is here that the development of the excellent communication skills we have spoken about previously will become of major importance. 

As a matter of fact, excellent communication skills are the key to being a great leader. When dealing with change, these skills become even more important. These include one-on-one communications (counseling and listening), written communications and public speaking skills.  Ignoring change by being silent will not work—you must be proactive. 

Understand That Employees Will Resist Change

In the famed show “Star Trek” there was a saying by the “Borg” – resistance is futile. Well, your employees will try to resist anyway.  The explanations for resisting change widely vary.  From another work on change—Leading Change, by James O’Toole--these include:  it is a natural condition of life, the force it takes to move a body of motion to alter its course (inertia), satisfaction with the status quo, fear of the unknown, etc.  To help people deal with change, you must understand their motivations in resisting change. 

In summary—change is always happening.  It is always accelerating.  And the events of the past year or so have proven that change can also be very unexpected.  A great leader meets the challenge of change head-on.  Otherwise, they will be left in the dust.  

Close more loans, be more efficient, stay out of trouble.

Find more at Pro School
This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine October 2021 issue.
Dave Hershman headshot
Dave Hershman

Dave Hershman is an author for the mortgage industry with eight books and several hundred articles to his credit. He is also senior vice president of sales for Weichert Financial Services, head of OriginationPro Mortgage School and a top industry speaker.

Published on
Oct 26, 2021
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