The Five Tenets of
Good Leadership in
Every organization will hit a rough patch every so often. It may be that the economy takes a dive as in ‘08 or things may happen inside the organization that create challenges that push us to our limits both personally and as a company. Adversity is a fact of life. It can’t be controlled. What we can control is how we react. Here are 5 tenets to help you now, if these are tough times for you or your organization, or in the future. Think of this as a prescription for when “stuff” happens.
#1 Stay positive
The first tenet, which sounds fairly elementary, is that you’ve got to stay positive. As leaders you can’t let negative news predominate. You’ve got to turn things into positives for your colleagues and your staff and remind them of all the good things your organization does. Most of all, understand that your people take their lead from you. If you are down, they’ll be down. If you are upbeat and positive, they will follow suit. Like it or not, you are on stage. Make it a “happy” play! We’ve all walked into businesses at one time or another and we could feel the tension and read it on the faces of the employees. Customers notice the atmosphere and- right or wrong- make judgments about the health of a business and whether or not the business is one they want to do business with — all based upon the way employees are acting.
#2 Have a clear and compelling vision
Show people you believe in the organization’s mission and vision and that you are doing the things that make you a great organization—an organization where people want to work and customers want to do business. Sticking with your vision in difficult times is important. The leadership attribute needed to survive and thrive in challenging times is endurance – a ‘no quit’ attitude. Tough times have happened before and they will go away. Companies that have a vision, a strategy, the patience to stick with it, and continue to do the right things will thrive.
#3 Keep an intense focus on your customers
Focus on deepening customer loyalty. Proactively reach out to your customers. Visit your business customers in their places of business. Reinforce the importance of making proactive contact with customers by phone and in person. Hold your staff accountable for making customer calls and visits. Find out what’s going on in the lives of your customers, especially the top tier customers—those who do the most business with you. What are your customers’ plans for 2014? What major life or business events have occurred or are on the horizon in 2014? How can you help with the financial service needs that such events typically create? Schedule a financial check-up meeting to get the ball rolling.
#4 Be seen and heard
The number one rule for the organization’s leaders is to be seen and be heard. Keep your doors open and walk the floor; visit the branches. Communicate with your employees about what’s important in the business, the progress that’s being made, what you are seeing and hearing about trends in the business, what new business has come your way, problems that have been resolved and challenges that are being addressed. Encourage their questions and create a solid two-way dialogue. It boils down to this: communicate and keep your employees informed and excited about the future.
#5 Appreciate the most important resources – your employees
Nothing gets done and you have no chance of success if you don’t have great employees who are motivated. Do not underestimate the power of recognition in creating a more upbeat work climate.
It turns out that when we receive praise we not only feel good, but there’s a chemical reaction that occurs in our brain. A recent article in the Gallup Management Journal, In Praise of Praising Your Employees,
states the following: “Recognition for good work releases dopamine in the brain, which creates feelings of pride and pleasure. Better yet, that dopamine hit cements the knowledge that more of that behavior will create more praise, resulting in another dopamine drench and so on.” So the effects of recognition are emotional, psychological and physical. Numerous studies have documented this interesting phenomenon.
Hey, we know there can be very difficult times and challenging situations, but for the sake of your staff and the organization, those in leadership positions are expected to step up and lead. The future is what you make it! After all, if you are not in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?
The Secret to Retaining Good Staff
by Laurie Guest, Certified Speaking Professional
During my years as a professional speaker and trainer, I have paid close attention to the actions of successful business management teams. One factor that seems similar is the ability to retain good staff. I have a few common sense ideas, that are often overlooked by employers, for retaining good people and building long-term professional relationships.
1. Appreciate good work.
Watch staff members in action and comment on the good work. When was the last time you gave a sincere thank you to the staff for arriving early to open, staying late to close or making your day go smoothly? A quick “Thanks a lot!” yelled over your shoulder as you are halfway out the door, does not count. Take the time for sincere gratitude. The secret is in the praise formula:
- Use the person’s name
- Indicate the praiseworthy action
- State why the action matters
- Express your thanks
“Linda, the way you handled that angry customer was outstanding. You really calmed her down. Thank you.”
See how much more effective that statement is than this: “Thanks a lot, Linda.”
2. Acknowledge productivity.
Increased customer volume is a direct benefit to the owner. The staff, on the other hand, may only see it as more work. Consider recognizing hard work with an individualized reward system that increases morale. The key to this idea is to determine what each staff member feels a good “reward” would be. Donuts for breakfast may not always be the extra special treat you anticipated. While one person would like a small cash bonus, a working mother might appreciate time off to catch her child’s soccer game on a Saturday afternoon.
3. Provide continuing education on a regular basis.
Make it a top priority to send your staff to educational programs in your industry. Encourage your team to become members of any state or local organizations that are pertinent to your product or service. If there is not such a thing, then create “on-site” teaching moments. Employees that feel they are growing in their position will stay longer. You would not think of denying your children a chance to go to school, yet many staff people are denied “work schooling” that could make a big difference to their careers.
4. Build opportunities for growth.
Plan annual retreats and develop long-term action plans. Focus on personal growth
for each team member along with business goals. Allow shadowing of different areas of the company so the overall knowledge is as widespread as possible. On occasion, send key staff people to visit others in your industry in a non-compete area in order to bring back business building ideas to share in the workplace.
In summary, if you want to know how to find and keep good people, think of it like a good marriage. Find staff people who have similar interests and values, and then treat them like treasured family members. Open communication, mutual respect, time for fun, and plans for a future together will build a long-term professional relationship.
Laurie Guest, Certified Speaking Professional
frequently speaks to associations, banks, educational professionals, medical practices, hospitals and municipal groups. For more information on Laurie’s programs and services, visit www.SolutionsAreBrewing.com.
Is There a Problem with Teller Referrals?
Is your organization struggling with getting referrals from the employee group that has the highest number of customer interactions every week; the group that typically has great relationships with customers; the group that knows things about your customers that the customers’ own families may not even know? We’re talking about the Tellers or Customer Service Representatives (as so many tellers are now titled).
As the largest employee group in your organization, tellers see the most customers. It stands to reason that they should be able to capitalize on their customer knowledge and the relationships they’ve established. They can be a highly productive source of referrals and new business opportunities. Here are six areas you can evaluate and address the shortcomings you may find:
I Wasn’t Hired to Sell or No One Ever Told Me I Should Be Making Referrals
If even one of your tellers says this, it is an indicator that the expectations are not clear. Identifying products and services that may be useful to customers is simply an extension of providing excellent service. Clarify their role and stress that a component of excellent service is identifying and recommending products and services that would be beneficial. Is it really ok that your customers wouldn’t have the products and services that would make their financial lives better?
Have you clearly communicated to tellers that making referrals is as important as accurate cash handling procedures? Don’t send mixed messages. You can’t say referrals are important but only measure and track transaction accuracy and balancing!
Be sure that job descriptions include referrals as a key sales and service responsibility. When advertising or posting for an open teller position, lead with the sales responsibility of identifying unmet customer needs and making product and service recommendations. When interviewing for open positions, ask questions that are designed to identify both willingness to sell and the candidate’s sales skills and experience in sales. Many organizations that excel in teller referrals employ the Southwest Airline approach to hiring. Southwest Airlines hires for “attitude” and trains skills. This means you hire the candidate who is friendly and outgoing, demonstrates interest in others, and embraces the idea that “selling is helping.” You can teach the candidate to count money, and use your teller system. Teaching someone to “care” about others, to be genuinely
interested in serving and to carry on adult conversations is a daunting training challenge. (Read between the lines, you don’t have the time or the money. Next candidate please!)
Evaluate the Training
High-functioning teller referral teams are provided with sales skills training in addition to compliance, system and product training. Do your tellers learn how to identify needs, ask questions to validate a need and “sell the benefits” of a product/service that would fill the need? Does your current approach assume that if tellers memorize product features and benefits they will be able to recommend products without doing what we refer to as a “product dump”? (A product dump is defined as a multi-sentence description of the products features.) Don’t make the mistake of confusing product training with sales skills training. Are you assigning the new teller to a “buddy” who is well-rounded in their approach to the job; diligent about compliance, accuracy and systems and a role model in customer service including expertise in identifying customer needs and making appropriate product/service recommendations?
The Power of Goals
Use individual goals, goal-setting discussions and measurements of performance against goals as tools to keep your tellers focused on referring. Coaches’ goal-setting and performance against goal discussions with the teller are coaching sessions that provide meaningful feedback, encouragement, recognition and sometimes even additional skill practice in the referral-sales skills that need attention. Do your tellers have the advantage of having individual goals and is it easy for them to track their referral activity against the goals? Do they know where they are in relationship to the goal at any point in the month? Does their coach know this and does he/she step in and provide appropriate encouraging feedback?
Observations and Coaching
Do your tellers receive the benefit of ongoing coaching that includes coaching on their sales efforts and referral results?
Has the coach spent time observing the tellers to identify in each tellers’ approach what’s working and things they might do differently to increase their referral production? Has the coach analyzed the referral pattern? Are referrals primarily limited to a few products—perhaps products the teller is most familiar with and most comfortable talking about? Are there products that are less understood and therefore never recommended? Are your tellers missing clues that customers share in conversations or types and frequency of customer transactions? Is most of the referral effort exerted at the end of the month right before performance against goals is calculated or is the referral effort part of the daily service routine? Waiting until the end of the month to engage in referral behaviors is an indicator that the teller doesn’t buy into the concept that “selling is helping.”
Does coaching occur throughout the month so mid-course corrections can be made? Are coaches missing opportunities to recognize not just those who make their goals, but those who have shown improvement and those who have achieved their first referral? Coaches frequently miss the opportunity to provide recognition and encouragement to those who are making incremental improvements in their skills and their results. Don’t under estimate the power of an interested coach in making the difference between a team with lackluster performance and one that excels.
Is There a Sales Incentive?
Yes, we agree that it feels good to help customers and that’s one type of reward for referring. Are your teller incentives aligned with the sales incentives others in the organization receive for making their sales goals? Money talks!
Make it Fun! Keep Everyone Revved Up About Making Customers’ Lives Better
Celebrate referral successes in your sales meetings. Recognize the high achievers, the consistent top performers, the first-time performers. Put their names in lights!
Encourage competition for referral performance among branches and teams. Create visual records of progress and performance in areas of the branch such as back rooms and/or lunch rooms. Periodically, leave little treats on teller work stations with notes that encourage referral performance. I knew a teller supervisor who put star shaped cookies on each teller’s work station with a note that said, “You are a star referral performer!” What a great way to start a workday.
Excellent referral performance from the teller team is no accident. It isn’t as simple as announcing that tellers must refer or changing their titles from Teller to Customer Service Representative. It does take effort, but the effort is worth it! Is it ok with you that your customers may not be getting the recommendations for products and services that would make their financial lives better?
What to Expect in Your Next Regulatory Exam
by Kevin Maas President, Wealth Management Compliance Alliance
Trust departments, like all functions of banking and financial services, are faced with a changing regulatory environment. Not only is the changing regulatory environment apparent in new rules and regulations, but also in the examination approach to requirements and duties that have applied to banks and their trust departments for many years and many examination cycles. It is obvious from the results of examinations of trust departments, large and small, state and nationally chartered, that examiners are more likely than not to look deeper and to be less flexible than ever before.
Federal and state trust regulators all recognize a similar list of duties which a trustee owes to the trusts that it accepts. Specific to investment management, two duties in particular are applicable:
- Duty to keep property separate and maintain adequate records. A trustee must keep trust property separate from the trustee’s property and keep and render clear and accurate records with respect to the administration of the trust.
- Duty of prudent investment. A trustee who invests and manages trust property has a duty to comply with the prudent investor rule unless otherwise stated by the terms of the trust or provided by state law. This duty is tied to the duty to use reasonable care and skill to make the trust property productive.
During the last six months of 2013, we worked with trust departments that have received in their regulatory examinations either Matters Requiring Attention or Violations of Law related to the two investment management duties listed above, by:
- inadequate trade confirmation records (created contemporaneous with the transaction and properly retained for easy access)
- failure to follow the trust department’s policies and procedures when accepting unique assets
- failure to conduct a risk assessment when making changes to the way in which the trust department addresses investment management
- failure to keep current the vault inventory and control log
- failure to have adequate dual controls for movement of funds and transactions
- failure to have well organized and complete account files
- failure to have current and accurate coding of asset types in the accounting system
- inaccurate Schedule RC-T, due to inaccuracies in data entered into the accounting system
- inadequate staffing based upon the assets managed and the experience of the staff involved
- in an outsourced Investment Management department:
- inadequate annual vendor management review of the 3rd party management firm
- Inadequate regular and timely review by trust staff of the third party’s transactions and adherence to the accounts IPS
The common thread through all of the findings listed above is that none of them resulted from a new rule or regulation or a relevant change in the trust department. Additionally, none of the findings had been raised as a material concern in prior examinations over many years.
The lesson to be taken from the experiences of other trust departments is that the fact that your prior examinations have not resulted in problematic findings has absolutely no bearing on what your next examination finding will be.
If you have questions please contact us at:
Wealth Management Compliance Alliance is a unit of Pohl Consulting and Training, Inc. which provides regulatory and compliance services involving wealth management to banks, registered investment advisors and broker dealers.
The Last Word
with LOYD POHL
Is Cross Selling the Ultimate Solution?
We have recently realized that many (most?) organizations are missing an important piece of their sales and service infrastructure. That missing piece is what we call Cross-Servicing!
It seems everyone has a renewed focus on cross-selling! Admirable and appropriate, but a natural extension of the success of that effort is that more and more clients will be high-value clients of more than one department, right? Obviously, but have you addressed that outcome in your infrastructure? Let’s ask some questions:
- Do your account or relationship profitability models adequately address the value of the client to other areas of the bank?
Example: Does your commercial loan pricing matrix account for a high-value trust client’s profitability? We are not suggesting everyone give away their prices because of other relationships – that leads to the recurring stories of huge bank clients that are actually not profitable! We are suggesting you need to address this issue in a myriad of ways in your pricing and value assessments of your clients.
- Have you figured out how the Relationship
Manager assignments will work in your organization? If you have a high value 401k customer (RM=RPS officer) who is also a high-value commercial loan customer (RM=Commercial Loan Officer), who is the lead Relationship Manager? Do you need a primary RM? – see #3 below. Are you using an Private Banker model? Are you using a team approach to relationship management? There are many solutions, but have you decided what your organization’s solution will be?
- Have you synchronized your standards of service?
We touched on synchronizing your tiering in #1 above. Have you coordinated the Standards of Service between the departments that might have joint, high- value clients? A Tier 1 Trust client might get 4 meetings and 6 calls a year from Trust. A Tier 1 commercial loan client might get 2 meetings and 6 calls a year from the commercial loan department. Isn’t that overkill? And more importantly, the client isn’t likely to react well to 18 contacts a year – especially if they aren’t coordinated.
- A key service standard is the formal “business meeting/review meeting” that any high-value client of any department should experience at least once a year. Are your officers coordinating those meetings with each other? Wouldn’t it make sense to have one meeting and craft an agenda that addresses all the relationship issues with the bank? Actually a simpler question to start – do the officers communicate with each other when they plan a client meeting with a mutual client?
- Do you have a mechanism to coordinate communication with the client and manage the same? If you are serious about cross-selling and cross-service, you MUST have a contact management system that crosses departmental lines.
- Are your sales and service officers using the same sales and service process and skills and language? Have they been trained to co-sell? Have they been trained to co-service?
- Does your pay for performance system reward people appropriately for cross-sales and cross-servicing results?
Interesting questions for you? The point: If you are promoting cross-sales, it is a best practice to also address cross-servicing issues. This must be done early in the development process.