The Fog of War

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Knowing and preparing for common crises helps clear the fog of war and avoid unnecessary casualties.

Uncertainty, strong emotions, and adrenal stress responses are all part of the fog of war. Whether on the battlefield or the White House Situation Room, the fog of war can lead to poor decision-making, overreacting or indecisiveness; each of which can have devastating consequences. Each substantially eroding cognitive abilities and judgment.

While reverse mortgage professionals are not on the field of battle it is not uncommon for a deluge of crisis to hit…all at once. Blame the fates, Murphy’s Law, or any target of convenience. However, it doesn’t change the fact that you will have to address each vexing problem.

Here are several ways you and your organization can reduce the fog of war, or at least face it in a more effective manner.

  1. First, identify and isolate the problem. The best approach is ready, aim, fire versus firing first and then assessing the damage later.
  2. Laser focus on one crisis at a time. Trying to solve everything at once can easily lead to indecision and procrastination. Certainly, you have multiple problems all presenting themselves simultaneously but focused concentration and effort are what wins the day.
  3. Have clear systems in place for loan tracking, follow-up, and addressing common recurring issues that create institutional stress and client dissatisfaction. Put your plan of operation for such contingencies in writing. Know where the needed resources are during peacetime.
  4. Train yourself or your staff to have regularly scheduled times when originators contact homeowners in application to update them and solve outstanding requirements or conditions. Regular updates are the best deterrent to misunderstandings, delays, and unmet expectations.
  5. Document, document, and document some more. A robust yet simple to use CRM is mission-critical to handling a deluge of future sales activities, but more importantly, following up on issues before they become a headache for everyone involved.
  6. Take a moment to calm down. Making a phone call or typing an email when you’re in a heightened emotional state or under stress is a surefire way to make things worse. Give yourself time to regroup then and only then move on to taking action.
  7. Problem solve. Before presenting a problem to your superior come up with a proposed solution. This not only helps you become reflexively proactive it also helps your manager contribute ideas in the full context of the problem.
  8. Prevent friendly fire. Transparency inside your organization is key. This helps avoid a culture of assigning blame and move toward a unified coordinated effort to fix what’s broken.
  9. Develop good instincts. If you’ve overreacted in the past, form a new habit of employing a measured response. The disciplined practice of strategic thinking will eventually train your emotional ‘muscle memory’ to act more expeditiously during the next battle.
  10. Information sharing. The more you openly communicate with each participant the more quickly you can gather the intelligence needed to respond intelligently. Encourage a culture of open communication with clear guidelines and boundaries. When can a loan officer contact a processor? What is your organization’s established ‘service level agreement’ for response times? 

Preparation, planning, and execution are your best allies when the fog of war hits. It may not be today or tomorrow but it will come. However, having prepared you can enter the fray with newfound confidence and determination.

-Shannon Hicks

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