5 Strategies for Coping with Tough Times
Industry leaders should step up their communication in this economic downturn
By Donna de St. Aubin, principal, St. Aubin, Haggerty & Associates Inc.
Many people think the mortgage industry already has faced its biggest challenges.
Others disagree. Whatever the case, the
ongoing economic downturn has impacted
mortgage brokers adversely.
In this climate, small and large companies require strong leadership more than
ever. Employees look to their company’s
leaders to understand what to expect
and how to behave. The right leadership
can guide mortgage brokerages, teams
and departments through stressful times
The following five tips can help leaders of small-town operations and nationwide organizations through the economic
pressures of today’s workplace.
Develop a culture of trust. 1. The trademark of great leadership is powerful, honest and clear communication. As much as
company leaders might not want to admit
it, they often fall short of communicating
with employees honestly as a result don’t
receive honest communication in return.
Organizations must work hard to reverse
these tendencies and to have internal and
external constituencies see them as open
and transparent. They should strive to
achieve this in personal and company wide
Employees want to know and understand the issues facing the company and
what its leadership intends to do about
those issues. Today’s economic times give
mortgage brokers a great opportunity to
raise their profile by communicating their
plans and intended actions.
Respect departing employees. 2.
Companies should provide as much support
as possible to anyone being laid off. This
can help remaining employees cope with
any feelings of guilt they might experience
about not being laid off.
Showing respect includes providing
things such as competitive severance allowances, continuation of benefits as appropriate and outplacement assistance for
making a smooth career transition. This
can send a positive message to those who
remain with the company as well as those
who are departing.
Engage employees. 3. Many organizations have had to implement programs
and policies that have impacted employees
significantly. Jobs have been lost, salaries
reduced, increases frozen, 401(k) matches
suspended, travel halted, training put on
hold and benefits reduced — all with the
purpose of improving the organization for
Given these decisions, it becomes more
important to make sure you re-engage
with your employees. Just because they
still have a job doesn’t make them immune
from seeking another. If people don’t see a
good future for themselves, they will seek
it elsewhere. Even if they stay, their minds
and hearts may be elsewhere.
Discuss your plans for righting the ship
and what role you envision for each member of the company. If you don’t, you risk
losing good people because you believed
they didn’t have other options.
Practice difficult conversations. 4. The
best leaders know how to deliver bad
business news without upsetting people
unnecessarily. That’s not easy to do. Make
sure to practice what you will say and how
you’re going to say it. Being genuine and
caring — as well as clear — will go a long
way toward demonstrating leadership
worthy of respect and emulation.
Prepare for better times. 5. When the
economic hard times end, companies will
need to begin hiring again. Make sure
you’re ready. Continue to build your brand
in the marketplace. Be proactive about
keeping good people in your sights so that
you can act swiftly when needed. Make sure
you look to internal candidates as well as
trusted former employees with whom you
have kept in touch.
As the economic downturn continues,
re-engaging with employees has never
been more important. Studies show that
employees will stay at a job for less pay if
they trust its leadership, enjoy what they’re
doing and use their strengths on a regular
basis. Mortgage brokerages with strong
leaders will find a smoother route through
these turbulent times.
Donna de St. Aubin is a
writer, speaker and consultant. She is the principal of St. Aubin, Haggerty
& Associates Inc., a strategic human-resources
consulting firm in the
Chicago area. She also is
co-author of two books, Tips When Hiring and
Firing Employees and Attract, Engage and Retain Top Talent, available at www.authorhouse.
com. Contact de St. Aubin at www.staubin.net
or (847) 564-2840.
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