3 ways to foster a culture of change within your organization

By: Erin Langevin, Senior Vice President, National Retail Operations, Guild Mortgage Company, LLC

Keep the change.

As any mortgage lender will attest, change is a constant in our industry. In recent years, several impactful changes have come our way: the introduction of TRID (TILA RESPA Integrated Disclosures), the introduction of Day-1 Certainty and demand eClosing, a variety of CFPB requirements, and recently implementing the new URLA. While mandatory changes driven by regulatory requirements are standard fare in our ever-evolving mortgage world, driving adoption of optional changes is where we need to focus efforts towards strategic planning to ensure successful change management. I’d like to share a few tips that have helped my organization navigate and embrace change.

Step 1: Be intentional about the changes you’ll make.

Mortgage lending is experiencing a technological revolution! It’s easy to get excited about a new technology or process that has the potential to bring terrific change to our organizations – and even the industry. As leaders, we have to be mindful about strategically selecting solutions that address critical needs. Driving adoption of optional technology or process change is challenging to say the least. Listen to your users, then align their highest pain points to a change that brings long-term benefit to your organization. Providing your team with what they believe they need to succeed reduces barriers to adoption and increases loyalty.

Step 2: Incorporate change into your company culture.

To foster a culture of change within your organization engaging in active listening, with team members from across the company spectrum, is critical. In order to have your ear on the ground for the whole company, form advisory groups comprised of a variety of people with different needs and geographical locations. Promote advisory group members within the organization, and remind users to provide them with input to bring to feedback sessions. Acknowledging that change is constant, and demonstrating a commitment to user feedback, will drive a positive response to cultural change.

When it comes to the user base, sharpen your focus on behavioral changes more than the KPIs. Behavioral changes will naturally and eventually lead to improved KPIs, but emphasis on KPIs without celebrating wins for the incremental activities driving those results can be stressful, and negatively impact adoption. Be specific about how daily behaviors will need to change and improve as new processes are put in motion. Offer a variety of incentives to your team as they adapt to, and more importantly benefit from, the new behaviors: contests, highlighting early adopters, team lunches for reaching behavior change milestones, donations to selected charities, shout outs in company newsletters, etc.

Keys for successful change:

  • Start at the top: Leaders must present a clear vision, and provide reasons why changes are necessary. Focused on the why, highlight positive outcomes while also painting the picture about what the future would look like without the specified change (e.g. losing your competitive advantage).
  • Make change a foundational part of your company culture: Have ongoing conversations with your advisory team about what is and is not working, and how you can partner to find a solution.
  • Craft a motivating narrative: While the IT team may be running the development of a technology project, the business side should be crafting and delivering the narrative along the way. Grow internal cheerleaders to spread the message.
  • For those driving change, develop incentives for reaching adoption benchmarks.
  • For users, develop motivating incentives for behavior change.

Step 3: Ensure adoption by including your entire team in the process.

Find influencers, champions and even detractors from different sections of your company (sales, production, ops, etc.). Invite them to be a part of the new solution implementation process from the get-go, as they will have invaluable feedback. Continually gather your implementation team’s input, and ask them to champion the change and its adoption throughout the company. Be careful not to oversell a project at the start. There will be bumps with any new implementation, change can be overwhelming, and some of your champions may lose interest as the process plays out. Craft small goals for behavioral change and adoption benchmarks, then celebrate milestones. Provide a simple project roadmap, and keep users informed about progress, and when their help may be needed.

When it comes time to implement change at the user level, be sure to craft a long-tail training program. Create bite-sized training modules delivered over several weeks that are easily accessible after launch. Introduce one small aspect of the change at a time, and give users time to become familiar with it before moving on to the next phase. Wherever possible, insert interactive activities to help them apply the knowledge. This is much more effective than a two-hour course and expecting them to retain the information when they eventually get to start the activity. It will greatly benefit your organization to have resources skilled in adult education and integrated learning strategies to craft effective training.

In Conclusion.

Following the 2020 volume surge, now is the time to get back to basics and evaluate potential new processes and technology. We can never fully know what new changes will come our way, but we can be prepared. Take time now to book a strategic planning session with your key leaders on how to improve adoption and be more successful at implementing a culture of change. Best of luck to you in our ever-changing future!

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