How To Keep Up

Overwhelmed by all the client projects you have to manage? Having a solid process can help you keep track of them.

One process is to break up all tasks by days and weeks, suggests the following Redbooth infographic. For example, every day, follow up on late tasks and monitor your team workload.

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Also, provide a weekly update for team and management, recommends Redbooth.

“You can scan the weeks ahead for potential roadblocks.”

Moreover, planning ahead for those team and client meetings can help them run more smoothly. “Let participants contribute to meeting agendas in advance,” states Redbooth.


Magazine Feature: A Balancing Act: People And Technology

*A Balancing Act: People And Technology*
**By Barbara Perino and Rebecca Walzak**

balancing-story***Wikipedia says: The word technology refers to the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function.

****Businesses small and large need technology to thrive, survive, and be efficient. Technology allows businesses to grow and expand across countries by giving them the strength to spread their wings. Growing businesses create employment opportunities for people through technology. Technology has changed the way people communicate. Communication systems have evolved from pigeons carrying messages, pony express, telegraphs, telephones, e-mails and now instant messaging and social media. The role of computers and the Internet in education has made learning more interesting. Computers enable better storage (now through the Cloud) and presentation of information. Lectures and lessons can be uploaded on websites, as PDFs, and more and more common – through videos. Online degrees and training courses give flexibility to people’s schedules. Mobile communication is the fourth generation of technology through smart phones, tablets and cellular networks.

****At the heart of every piece of technology is automation. Technology automates the most complex of processes – communication, education, medicine, and in the mortgage industry through the ability to analyze risk, share data, approve loans, make collection calls and obtain external data in a matter of seconds. With the application of technology, critical and time-consuming processes can be executed with ease and less time. Laborious and repetitive tasks are completed by machines including robotic equipment. With automation comes efficiencies and speed.

****Remember back in the 90s when the mortgage industry relied on a bank of fax machines to process documents? How about the Motorola mobile phone that was as big as a small appliance. People out in the field would have to lug them into their cars and find a place for the machine to sit on while in use. Remember the boxes and boxes of files that would accumulate and then have to be stored in a storage room or sent offsite to a remote storage facility? Now files are scanned into a computer and stored remotely in the cloud and can be accessed anywhere by the simple click of a mouse. The mortgage industry hasn’t quite embraced the “paperless” environment quite yet but it’s heading in that direction. But … what about the “people” in the industry? Are they now just data pushers, intermediaries between parts of the technological elements of what we do? Who are we talking about when we say mortgage “people”?

****People Are More Important Than Technology

****One description of what “People” means is: “The body of persons who compose a community, tribe, nation, or race; an aggregate of individuals forming a whole; a community.”

****We can never forget the importance of the people in the organization regardless of how automated and technology savvy a company is. Someone has to oversee the processes, systems, communicate with each other, with customers, with clients and vendors. The people behind the scenes, operating and running the organization are by far, the most valuable resource the company has to utilize. The leaders, sales people, operations, managers, IT staff, customer service staff, support staff, etc., no matter what their jobs or responsibilities are they each play a very important role. Because of them the organization could not run efficiently or successfully. Their roles are essential to the effective and successful operation of the organization. The leaders set policy and create the culture and direction of the company. The sales people create new opportunities and strengthen the relationships with the customers/clients; the operations folks make sure the work gets processed in a timely and efficient manner. Management is responsible for creating an atmosphere of cohesiveness, making sure everyone is doing their jobs effectively and gives guidance when needed. The IT person/staff make sure the computer systems and platforms are updated and are constantly working properly. Customer service makes sure the client/customers products and services are being completed and are happy with the organization’s services. HR is responsible for hiring, firing, counseling and supporting the staff through policy and guidelines and protecting people where it’s needed. Support staff, the receptionist and the assistants support the workflow and communication within the organization.

****People are an invaluable resource or the “brains behind the technology.” There are some who come up with new ideas, develop new products, and devise new ways to handle different situations and problems, based on their own experience, through brainstorming, knowledge and various perspectives. These people (and a company should be open to listening to any one employee no matter what their position) are the ones who are responsible for helping the organization progress and come up with newer more innovative ideas. Without people, an organization has little to no chance surviving. Organizational leadership needs to take special care to ensure their employees, no matter what their role is, are satisfied with their work environment. People are the backbone of every organization and play a major role in the success or failure of an organization. Many, both in our industry and in others as well, caution those that are over-enthusiastic about the seeing and using technology as the all-encompassing means to corporate and personal success. Based on the emergence of recent organizations, some seem to be listening to their concerns.

****For example, the new company, Direct Valuation Solutions (DVS) heard the reports of numerous people regarding how automation in managing appraisals was creating a frustrating environment for obtaining appraisals and resolving issues and concerns. In response, they have launched their program that supports stronger relationships between appraisers and lenders. Utilizing the DVS platform, lenders can compliantly communicate with appraisers through the system. The system allows them to engage in conversations, communicating on various status milestones and to share questions and answers directly. All interaction is also tracked for auditing purposes. Mike Ousley, CEO of DVS shared, “We put people together, building strong relationships. We want to create a good experience for the borrower dealing with the appraiser and to allow better dialog with the appraiser and the underwriters. More times than not, the appraiser is treated like a number, paid poorly and discounted for the value they bring to the transaction. We want to change this perception and provide a higher quality experience for the lender and borrower as well.”

****Remember Millennials (Generation Y folks) and Technology?

****It is going to be very important going forward for companies to instill the value of establishing and maintaining relationships in the workforce through connections and human communication to the younger generations who are very comfortable communicating in the world of social media, text message and email. Yes, these modes of communication are efficient and convenient but they don’t take the place of relating to a human being. There is a perfect opportunity for the Baby Boomer generation in companies to build that bridge between the two as boomers are really good at relationship building. It will be up to leadership and management of companies to create the balance.

****Jeff Wuorio shared seven strategies in a blog on Microsoft’s Small Business website. He said “Recognize that balance works for your business – understand the differing dependencies on people and technology.”

****>> Find your balance and inform your employees – hiring the right kind of people for your culture. If your company is people centered, hire people who value interaction. If you are heavy on a technology focus, hire people to love to come to work and do nothing more than write code or interface with data all day.

****>> Technology shouldn’t exist just for the technology’s sake. Technology should be a means, not an end. Be sure of the outcome you expect from the new technology – monitor it at specific milestones to make sure you are on the right track.

****>> Follow up with training – commit resources so people can get the most out of new technical systems or products. Comprehensive, detailed training to make certain everyone is as comfortable as possible.

****>> Technology and people aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Leveraging technology such as personal online contact for employees working remotely is efficient and it brings parties together to share.

****>> Recognize the value of technology – approach technology as an attractive workplace element, which is particularly important for younger people who may place great emphasis on the latest technologies.

****>> Want to know if the balance is work?  Ask. Never assume that your perception of what’s happening naturally translates to an ideal tech/people balance. Ask your employees how they feel. Is the new technology a boon or a hindrance to their productivity and satisfaction?

****While we must continue to make progress in technology, the people part of the equation cannot be ignored.  It would be wise for anyone integrating technology and people to “Remember the 80/20 rule: if 80% of your clients and employees are happy about the system, you’re on the right track. If only 20% are happy, you may have some tweaking or re-thinking to do,” concluded Duperval.

First, Barbara Perino is Director of Business Development for Direct Valuation Solutions a new cloud based technology platform that is designed to streamline and enhance the appraisal fulfillment experience. Barbara has 23 years of extensive sales and sales management experience along with operational knowledge from all facets within the residential property valuation industry. She is also a professional certified coach. Second, Rebecca Walzak, a leader in operational risk management programs in all areas of the consumer lending industry, founded and leads rjbWalzak Consulting, Inc. In addition to consulting experience in mortgage banking, student lending and other types of consumer lending, she has hands on practical experience in these organizations as well having held numerous positions from top to bottom of the consumer lending industry over the past 25 years.

Magazine Column

*Business Strategies: An Enemy Called Average*

**By Michael Hammond**

***There are many things that have been said about today’s mortgage market but words like thriving,

booming and easy are not among them. In order to compete and grow in today’s changing markets

and ultra competitive environment, companies must foster a competitive spirit. It is imperative

to instill a commitment to excellence within their organization if they are going to be able to grow.

****The major roadblock to achieving this is what I call, “an enemy called average.” What does that

mean? People are fine with just getting by. Society has taught some that it’s ok to do the bare minimum.

These people think that they are entitled to certain things, so they don’t strive for more. As a

result, they become content with just getting by and doing just what’s expected and nothing more.

When you’re average, that detracts from you ever becoming great. You don’t have that competitive

spirit or drive, in other words.

****What’s fueling that is a sense of entitlement. People feel like the world owes them something, so

they take things for granted and expect things without having to put forth the work or effort to accomplish

tasks and overall success. Unfortunately, that starts at a young age in this society. Kids are

programmed to get what they want when they want it.

****It’s all about instant gratification.

The bigger problem is that you see this in all aspects

life. As kids grow and participate in sports, for

example, think they’re entitled to playing time, just

because they showed up for practice. It doesn’t matter

if they’ve acquired the requisite skills or put forth the

effort at practice, they feel that they deserve to play and

so do their parents.

****Further, just because Johnny spent an hour doing his homework, doesn’t mean that he understands

the lesson and deserves an A. The school systems are also falling into the trap of being average because

they don’t want to label exceptional effort or kids that need more help. They think they’re helping these

kids, but in reality, they are crippling these kids from working hard. Society wants to protect kids from

disappointment, but disappointment is part of life. What do I mean? Somebody gets the job, somebody

doesn’t. Somebody gets the promotion, somebody doesn’t. By creating this sterile environment, we do

kids a huge disservice.

****So, after a life of having things handed to them, of being protected from criticism, these kids enter

the workforce and just wait for something good to happen to them. They expect and feel like they

deserve a given position or title even if they haven’t proven themselves. They want a lifestyle without

putting out the effort to accomplish that goal. What this does is produce a whole generation in our

workforce today that’s ok with mediocrity.

So, they stop growing. They don’t strive for greatness. They are not looking to excel. They’re not

teachable, and they give up the first time things get tough because they have been insolated and they are

used to getting what they want without doing anything to deserve that reward. When someone critiques

them or out performs them, they don’t know how to respond.

What this leads to is these individuals not being adequately prepared for business or life in

general. They don’t follow through when

things get tough. They shirk accountability.

****In the end, they are not able to self

analyze their situation in order to realize

what needs to be done for them to move

forward. What we have is a generation of

whiners that haven’t learned how to win.

I recently read a book by Keith Cameron

Smith called The 10 Distinctions Between

Winners and Whiners. It was a good

read. Here’s the premise of the book:

****Distinction # 10: Winners take responsibility.

Whiners play the victim.

****Distinction #9: Winners can have what they want. Whiners

want what they cannot have.

****Distinction #8: Winners find a way. Whiners find an excuse.

****Distinction #7: Winners brighten a room by entering. Whiners

brighten a room by leaving.

****Distinction #6: Winners listen twice as much as they talk.

Whiners talk twice as much as they listen.

****Distinction #5: Winners enjoy life’s journey. Whiners put

their joy in the destinations.

****Distinction #4: Winners build friendships. Whiners destroy


****Distinction #3: Winners think big. Whiners think small.

****Distinction #2: Winners are focus-minded. Whiners are


****Distinction #1 Winners create positive meanings. Whiners

create negative meanings.

****As employers, you have to understand that this sense of entitlement

and this enemy called average has permeated the workforce.

If this is not addressed, it can stifle future growth.

****How do you address it? It’s important to create a spirit of

competition and a spirit that strives for excellence. I’m not talking

about perfection, but rather encouraging a spirit that is always

looking to improve. In creating that environment, what it

will deliver to the organization, is an understanding that life is

not fair. Some times you’re going to get the deal even if you

have the best solutions because their CEO is friends with your

competitor’s CEO.

****You can’t always control those situations, but you can always

control how you respond. No one owes you anything, and you’re

not entitled to anything. In other words, you have to go out and

earn everything. Goals and dreams are attained

through hard work and the desire to

never give up until you’ve accomplished

the task at hand.

****Fostering this environment for excellence

puts people in a position to succeed

and a place where they can be teachable

going forward. In doing so, once you start

rewarding performance, when you acknowledge

those that are succeeding and

those people are striving to get their head

above the rest and their efforts are rewarded

as a result, we start breaking the self-entitlement

bubble. We don’t accept average anymore and individuals

learn discipline, accountability, determination, a willingness

to accept critique, a desire to constantly learn, and at the end of

the day it raises everyone’s game. Now that encourages others to

strive for greatness, too.

****Organizations that promote this type of environment demonstrate

that there are no limits on what the individual can accomplish

and what they can contribute to the organization. You

inspire workers to look beyond the boundaries and look outside

the box. That spirit of competition fosters continual growth. In

the end, the company wins and the individual wins because they

are more willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.

Make no mistake, this doesn’t happen overnight. If the company

promotes ongoing learning, sets forth a vision, and reward

risk taking and give incentives to individuals that have gone above

and beyond, they can eliminate this enemy called average.

I know you’re asking; “What does this mean for my business?”

****As a technology vendor, if you foster this environment

instead of having a sales team that just takes orders, is not persistent

and doesn’t follow through, this strategy will get you a

staff that will move past those hurdles and improve your bottom

line as a result.

****As a lender, when this competitive spirit is part of your culture,

your employees will seek ways to produce better quality

loans, increase transparency and they’ll continue to battle for

borrowers even though origination volume is expected to decline

this year.

****Companies must eliminate a sense of entitlement and create

a competitive environment where everyone strives for excellence.

****ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and the founder and president of

NexLevel Advisors. NexLevel provides solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations

and social media. He can be reached at