Technology enables us to collaborate with people across the hall and around the world. Whether it’s software development or customer support, the ability to collaborate effectively is critical.
As a loan officer, you work with real estate agents, title companies, attorneys, underwriters, and marketers; you’re the project manager and single point of contact for the customer throughout the loan approval process. Effective collaboration can facilitate seamless interaction across these multiple groups to deliver quality customer service, fast approvals, and even faster turn times.
Collaboration can also be a challenge. Your customer’s satisfaction and your success rest on your ability to work collaboratively with others. Here are some basic principles you can use to foster dynamic and fruitful collaboration.
- Speak the same language. Business jargon can make communication with others on your team difficult. One benefit of the mortgage lending business is that each of the players — with the exception of the customer — speak a common language. As a loan officer, you should avoid acronyms and industry jargon when dealing with customers. Your job is to educate and demystify the process so the customer understands their role as part of this collaborative effort.
- Agree on goals. Each of your team members has their own individual objectives. Your shared goal is to reconcile those objectives and provide the customer with the best mortgage lending experience possible.
- Identify critical milestones. Make sure your team understands the key deliverables required in each phase of the process and agrees on a timeline designed to meet individual and shared goals. When you and the members of your team agree on milestones and goals, everyone is better able to focus on the work at hand.
- Build trust by earning it. Effective collaboration requires trust. Competition is fine in some situations, provided it’s focused on reaching shared goals. Collaboration requires honest and open involvement. If you make a mistake or are unable to meet a deadline, transparency is critical for the team and your customer. You’re more likely to gain the trust of others when you tell the truth — even when it’s not good news. Doing so allows the team to recalibrate, adjust goals, and manage expectations as needed in a unified way.
- Keep your commitments. Another key component in building trust comes with meeting your obligations.
- Agree on communication protocol. We tend to look to technology to aid or improve collaboration. Determine how best to keep your team members in the loop and up-to-date on the progress of your customer’s loan application. And, while there are many good websites and apps available, don’t get bogged down in your search for a solution when a weekly phone conference will do.
- Ask questions and listen carefully. While this may seem obvious, it is in the exchange of information and real and open dialogue that surfaces problems and prevents the team from reaching their goals.
- Acknowledge differences and move on. When disagreements occur they should be acknowledged. All ideas are good ideas when it comes to brainstorming, but the tight timeframe of the loan process can make sudden process improvements stumbling blocks instead of innovations. And, while failing to acknowledge differences may discourage valuable contributions, it’s best to table such discussions for a later date.
- Be your best. Collaboration makes demands on us to be open and engaged. It’s hard to work effectively with people when you’re constantly on the defensive or feeling insecure. Put your ego aside. Express your support and willingness to be part of the collaborative effort. When you bring your authentic self to the table, you and your team are more likely to succeed.
- Connect. Get to know your teammates both as collaborators and as people. If possible, spend some time together outside of work. Getting to know one another strengthens the bond, builds trust, and helps open critical lines of communication. It can also lead to new customers and future referrals.
The Bottom Line
A successful loan officer appreciates the experience and expertise their collaborators bring to the table. They work hard to build trust both with customers and team members. They value honesty and encourage transparency. A successful loan officer understands that collaboration encourages creativity, sparks innovation, and delivers measurable results when their team plays to its strengths.