Personal Responsibility: From Lip Service To Lasting Change

Strengthening our business starts with extending our influence to excuse mitigation. Personal responsibility is a term thrown around on the regular.  In fact, it is one of the core values of Nextview Group. Our simple direction is to “Take responsibility for your actions, reactions and maximizing your influence.” How do we know if we’re getting it right?

My work, both paying and philanthropic, exposes me to the best of the best in mortgage and cycling. As I struggled to define “Personal Responsibility”, examples not explanations keep popping up. Below are four of the most recent ones.   

The non-profit I am deeply involved in just wrapped up our last event of the year. We fed and entertained 700 racers and 1000+ spectators for a weekend and then sent them into the woods. Events like that don’t come off without a ton of personal responsibility and there were a couple of great examples.

The Examples

  • Go the Extra Mile:

    One of my fellow board members actually participated in the race. Came back to HQ, realized we needed help and drove a van for 4 hours to pick up shattered racers.  Didn’t complain, didn’t blame logistics, just got the job done.

  • Just Fix It:

    We had a couple of significant snafus as is always the case at an event of this scale. Instead of lamenting our planning blunders, the team fixed them instantly and everyone moved on. We will examine them in post race follow up, but in the moment, the key was that excuses were replaced by action.

What about Real Estate?

In real estate land, personal responsibility is a rare commodity.  Realtors blame MLO’s then MLO’s blame Underwriters or their staff.   Everyone blames Appraisers, because, why not.  In my office we call it the “buss toss” and even when in a concious environment, it happens way to often. Interestingly, it never helps. If the deal doesn’t close clean and on time, it is your responsiblity.

Work with MLOs to define what an On-Time-Close looks like. Simple right?  You pick a date, you close before, on or after that date. Here is how the last few conversations have gone:

What is your on time close rate?   “100%”

Great, have data?  “Nope.”

— 2 months fixing data problem —

Only 6 out of 10 of your loans actually closed on the original date, so, your on time close rate is 60% “Nope, 100%, it isn’t my fault if the borrower is declined, or the appraisal wasn’t on time or the borrower doesn’t get me their stuff, so, all of those are on time because someone else made me late”   

Fixing the Problem

So, the paradigm shift is that you are being paid to extend your influence in the interest of excuse mitigation. How do you fix it?  You communicate day one with all parties the On-Time-Close expectations. You let them know the risks and you hold them accountable to delivering every piece of paper or clearance on time.  Hold your team accountable to maximizing their influence.   Ask, “Did we do EVERYTHING we could have?” Then ask again, and again.   

  • Create Political Capital:

    When was the last time you observed an operational team member being talked down to, yelled at or criticized for making a mistake? It happens way to often in our business. It is unacceptable.   Yelling gets the thing done in the moment but it costs you money every time. How? Well, you yell, you escalate you get the deal done.  Congratulations. The next time a file comes in, the only thing the team can consider is how you make them feel and their performance and delivery is impacted.

     

    Be kind, extend grace, cover for people and you will be shocked that when you need them, they will be there.  Here is the rub, you still manage to expectations and sometimes you need to get people off the bus, but, before you do, be kind, maximize your influence and win.

Two key takeaways for personal responsibility:

1)  Excuses never make sense, they weaken you, weaken your position and weaken your resolve to win.  Take ownership, fix the people, systems or processes that led to the failure and move on.  

2) Extend more grace to those around you and concurrently self examine.  What could you have done differently to extend your influence?