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You need to communicate, even when there is nothing to report

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A friend of mine is refinancing her home.

She filled out all the paperwork in November, was assured that there would be no problem with the transaction, and that she would close on her refi within 45 days.

She was also told that she would be hearing from the loan processor in a couple of weeks to schedule an appraisal and request a title search.

By Day 30, she hadn’t heard from anyone, so she started emailing.

When Day 40 rolled around and she still hadn’t heard from anyone, my friend starting making phone calls.

Finally, in a fit of exasperation, she called the head of the processing department on Day 45 to complain. That’s when people started to return her phone calls.

“Oh, your application just landed on my desk,” said one person.

“We’re dealing with quite a backlog of applications,” said another.

“It will probably be another week or so before we even get to your application,” said a third.

Now I’m sure that the total meltdown of the mortgage industry and the change in qualification requirements has slowed the load processing machine down to a crawl. That, and the surge of people like my friend, who want to take advantage of their good credit scores and low rates on 30-year mortgages, has to be putting pressure on a system already at the point of collapse.

My friend is a reasonable human being; she gets that. But here’s the problem: the lenders themselves set an expectation that they would be contacting her on a timely basis. They didn’t. Worse still, when she asked for updates, no one responded to her emails or calls.

The company’s attitude was that there was “no news to report” so there was no reason to communicate with my friend. In the meantime, she was worrying that there was a problem with the loan, or that the application had been lost, or worst of all, that she would lose the rate she’d locked in for 45 days and end up paying a higher rate on her mortgage.

At this point, she’s lost all confidence in the loan processor and their assurances that the refi will close in the next few weeks.

I’m sure that every consumer on the face of the planet can report a similar experience.

Now take a minute and think about your organization and the way you communicate news and changes to your employees. How many times have you promised to provide timely updates, but a project deadline has shifted or changing circumstances has caused a delay?

Happens all the time, right?

How often do you make a point to reconnect with your employees, to announce that there is nothing to announce right now?

I know it seems pointless from your end. But absent real information – even “no news to report” updates – employees will create their own news. And that’s where the real trouble begins: rumors, uncertainty and distrust, all leading to a loss of productivity and morale.

You’ll be amazed how something so simple can go such a long way in maintaining confidence in your management and theorganization as a whole.

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