The most impactful transformations for mortgage brokers focus not only on a new strategy, process or system, but also on the behaviour that goes with it. IG&H’s years of experience in the sector have proven this time and time again. Transformation trajectories often only accomplish a part of their original goals due to the fact that employees (and executives) eventually fall back into their old habits. How to prevent this as an organization?
The mortgage sector is changing fast; technological developments are happening quicker and quicker, customer behaviour is changing and laws are being altered. Mortgage advice, for example, is changing towards a hybrid model. Clients begin the advice trajectory online so that the mortgage advisor can focus on only the most important decisions during their discussion. Smart software and data science technology are also making it possible to respond more effectively to the personal needs of individual clients.
In practice, we often see advisors making little use of the new possibilities available to them. For example, the steps that a client has followed online are often not used, resulting in double the amount of work. It is also often the case that they do not know how to use new information, such as conclusions stemming from data science research, in practice.
A new way of work calls for adjusted behaviour. It is often the case that employees are told to teach themselves new habits, which often results in them falling back into their old habits. Those who wish to create transformations with real impact on the organization will need to guide employees on the work floor consistently. If this does not happen, many applications and changes will be only partially utilized.
How do you coach employees after a change in working conditions?
A few necessary basic principles for those who want to create lasting behavioural changes became obvious to us after countless transformation trajectories with mortgage brokers:
If working conditions change, higher management often has the tendency to tackle problems that originate on the work floor directly using solutions which they have used before. Though this may sound logical, it can have a perverse effect. Previously used solutions have been proven to have an unsatisfactory effect. For this reason, do not immediately spring into action.
Identify the root cause of the behaviour. We often see that the problem is literally the tip of the iceberg. The behaviour is merely what is visible to us. What is causing it to happen? Which convictions and motivations are strengthening or hindering? Begin working with this ‘undercurrent’ in mind.
An often seen example is that employees fail to ask for help from each other or their executives. This results in them drowning in work or not sounding the alarm on time if they are experiencing problems. It turns out that people often do not dare ask for help. They are impeded by the belief that they should not disturb somebody else.
This root cause is important; don’t tell people that they should ask for help more often, opt to discuss the problem during a meeting. Ask the entire team if they experience inconvenience when somebody asks for assistance. The majority of times this is not the case and this knowledge will ultimately lower the threshold.
A second handle that we use often is the ‘change curve’. Everyone follows the same psychological trajectory from denying a problem, to frustration or resistance and, ultimately, acceptance. This is the case for both employees and executives, though some may start the trajectory sooner than others. The speed of the trajectory can also differ; one person can process a change within minutes, another within months. Some people may never be able to.
Higher management often recognizes the change much earlier than the rest of the organization. Therefore, they experience the change curve sooner. By the time the rest of the organization is informed, they have already accepted the change themselves and often cannot comprehend why the rest of the organization is not yet ready
Take, for example, a certain organization that went through a major change of direction. After months of meetings about what was needed, the management decided to share the outcome in a staff meeting. To their great displeasure, there was no immediate enthusiastic response. Half of the group did not see the impact and the other half wondered what this meant for their job. Taking people into the thought process at an early stage can help speed up the change curve.
Those wishing to prevent their employees from reverting told behaviour will need to guide the new work methodology on the work floor. Attention to both antecedents and consequences are of the utmost importance during this process.
Shaping the correct conditions is a prerequisite for the creation of new habits. Employees must know what is expected of them and how they can achieve these goals. Organizations spend 80% of their energy on average on the creation of these antecedents.
It is noteworthy that these prerequisites only play a small part in bringing about behavioural changes on the work floor. The largest part of the behavioural changes is caused by attaching consequences to the behaviour. This is crucial to changing somebody’s daily routine.
In our experience, it often helps to let teams make explicit agreements over desired results and collaboration. Often, the existing situation has grown in a certain way, and it can do no harm to shake it up a bit. After this, create moments for feedback. For example, keep a frequent team dialogue, or ensure that an executive pays attention to the agreements, both written and behavioural.
Written by: Joppe Smit en Jorien Weerdenburg