The Critical Importance of Soft Skills in Mortgage Banking

Patricia Sherlock

 

With the mortgage industry’s emphasis on technology as the solution for all productivity issues, it seems that hard skills are mandatory when recruiting and developing personnel. Invariably, companies require employees to have computer and analytical skills no matter what their position. Soft skills such as communication and emotional intelligence are perceived by many managers as not as important, which I think is a mistake.

As the working world changes and the business environment becomes ever more competitive, employees’ ability to develop relationships and build trust with all internal and external clients is essential for success. The quality of those relationships often depends on how well employees communicate with others.

Why Good Communication Skills Matter

Many managers and employees assume that they are already great communicators and are naturally attuned to other people simply because they are supervisors or in sales. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. While employee engagement is a hot topic in business, oftentimes it is considered an “HR thing” and something that companies “support” but do not invest in actionable programs to drive improvement. Conducting a survey is a good start but what happens after that?

To prove my point, let me ask, “How often are managers terminated because their employees are disengaged? The answer is, “Rarely, if ever.” Instead, companies are much more likely to investigate who rated the workplace as toxic.

While managers can be fired for not meeting recruiting goals, they are not penalized for having disengaged employees or high turnover. What message does that send about what a company really values?

The underlying driver of employee engagement is communication skills. From understanding and aligning with another person’s communication style to handling difficult clients, this is a soft skill that needs to be emphasized and taught consistently at organizations with a high rate of interaction with consumers.

Employees and customers alike have varying communication styles and there can be discord or disconnects if they do not share the same style. This friction can result in good employees leaving the company or customers refusing to refer their family and friends.

We all have a list of businesses we no longer support because of poor written or verbal communication we’ve received. More often than not, employees with lacking communication skills are unaware of how they’ve negatively impacted co-workers or customers.

In the last few years, I have added communication skills to my selling programs because employees are not receiving this training at the corporate level.

Mortgage banking is a business based on building good relationships, internally and externally. Companies that fail to invest in improving soft skills such as communication risk losing employees and customers in the long run.

Organizations that want to achieve long-term success will need both hard and soft skills to reach their goals — whether that’s increasing employee retention, improving the customer experience or both.

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