Don’t ask why

Asking what questions is way more productive than asking why questions. It’s a mental framework, not a semantic. Which of those questions are you asking more often? This simple exercise can differentiate the optimist from the pessimist. The helpful from the complainer. If you’re a pessimist, trying to become an optimist seems arduous. If you’re an optimist, you don’t really understand pessimists since there’s little upside to “no”.

As you walk around your commercial appraisal firm, do you hear a lot of “why” questions? If so, I bet you $2.50 that your firm has low entrepreneurial spirit. If you hear a plethora of “what” questions, I bet  your staff embraces technology, participates in internal best practices and processes. I bet your firm is very productive.

5 “Why” Questions to Stop Asking Yourself

  1. Why are our appraisal fees so low?
  2. Why do I have to work from home?
  3. Why do I have to respond to bank reviewers?
  4. Why can’t I get on the approved appraiser list for Bank x?
  5. Why should I get my MAI?

5 “What” Questions to Start Asking Yourself

  1. What can I do to increase appraisal production for myself and companywide?
  2. What can I do to reduce report errors and make external reviewers happier?
  3. What can I do to facilitate an entrepreneurial office culture?
  4. What can I do to help out with sales and marketing for my firm?
  5. What can I do to encourage additional education and designations?

At our office, we do an initiative technique which includes discussing what you will start doing, keep doing and stop doing. What initiatives could your commercial appraisal firm benefit from? For example, an initiative might be determining the actual cost of your appraisers’ inspections. I guarantee that the second your appraiser gets in their car; their hourly revenue drops precipitously.

An inspection initiative might look something like this. Let’s start using an appraisal workflow platform (such as RealWired’s Manager web based workflow application ). Let’s keep saving our subject pictures in the cloud off our cell phones with everyone having the same setting (for report consistency). Let’s stop using Excel to try to manage all our jobs in progress.

Ask, “What’s the benefit for this initiative?” A significant drop in inspection hours. Batching will result in two, three or even four inspections in one day. This initiative might involve your appraisers’ communicating with one another more often. Maybe start using Shared Calendar feature in O365 to consolidate schedules. It may involve quid pro quo where appraisers agree to swap jobs to facilitate inspection batching. We have a big screen TV rotating PowerPoint images of our various initiatives. It’s a great visual reminder, generating mental “oh yeah” as employees walk by.

If your appraisers chronically ask, why are we doing these initiatives? It’s a teachable moment, or if you get chronic resistance, perhaps an exit interview. To be fair, communicate your expectations for initiatives. Start, Keep and Stop. Don’t ask why.

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