The Bus Stops Here:
Creating a Performance-Based Culture That Continually Raises the Bar

bank employee strategiesCulture is the leading predictor of future growth and profitability. Great news if you have a great culture—otherwise…not so much.

After working with hundreds of banks over 24 years, I can say unequivocally that banks that turn their cultures around turn their profits around quickly, too. It is the leading indicator of future growth and profitability—the two needles that matter the most.

And with the opportunities about to hit for abundant acquisition opportunities, you know the importance of getting your own house in order before you compound the situation.

So, what’s the problem?

According to Gallup organization research, the number of disengaged employees in the last five years has gone from 30 percent of the workforce to over 70 percent! It’s hard to imagine a more alarming statistical shift for the business world. If that’s not enough to make you want to give up, 27 percent of the workforce is receiving treatment for mental health issues while uncounted others remain untreated. With 153 million prescriptions for antidepressants written each year, know that you have a lot of people who are challenged every day.

Even those who are being treated are still in pain, and they often push that pain and hurt onto others. They bring their phobias, sadness, and projections into your workplace to create “messes.” There isn’t much you can do about the national trends, so the question remains: What do you do to protect yourself so these challenges don’t destroy your potential for a great culture?

The real problem, as you’ll see below, is that people are operating off of “agreements.” They may not be written down, and most are not healthy, but they are accepted agreements. Until they are replaced by healthier and understood “agreements,” it all feels futile.

Crazy-Making Agreements that Permeate and Ruin Cultures

Gossip, listening to gossip and passive aggressive behaviors are all standard “agreements” that suck the potential and joy out of any organization. Add to that whining and excuses, and it’s a miracle that organizations function at all.

Then, compound that with “drama queens” who come in both genders. They are the ones that interpret any news as the end of the world and make sure others know how quickly doomsday will come. To them, every scheduled meeting must be the time to announce, We’re being sold. Every time the boss steps out, it must mean people are about to get laid off.

If they hear that a new person is being interviewed, they quickly spread the gossip that someone else is being replaced, or make up something else without the need for bothersome facts. Whenever they hear gossip, they immediately drop into character, dissolving into tears to grab the spotlight, drawing attention to the claim that someone hasn’t been fair to THEM.

And of course it IS all about THEM.

The bad news is that it only takes one person like this to ruin a culture—and they’re good at it. So you need to get better at developing the systems and processes that keep your culture healthy—and transform that one person OR invite them off the bus.

How do you help heal a workforce that is desperately in need of healing?

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

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1. Ask for commitment to live by healthy agreements

By clearly denying your values, behaviors, and non-negotiables, you make it obvious to people what is acceptable and what is not. But education goes beyond these definitions. You also need to constantly teach them through coaching and educational sessions what is “good behavior” and what is not.

2. Give everyone full permission to “call it tight”

Every person must know that when they see another person violate a code of authentic behavior, they can and should call that person on it immediately. With kindness and firmness, a bank teller shouldn’t think twice about telling a manager, “Please don’t complain about Julie. That hurts both Julie and me. Please go talk to her directly.”

If you have a culture where people wait for the manager to deal with it, you WILL have insanity. In a culture of inauthenticity, the manager is always the last to know.

3. Coach up or out

If a team member has been coached several times on behaviors that are hurtful to their teammates, it’s time to realize they either can’t grasp the lesson or they won’t. Either way, allowing that person to stay hurts both that person and the team. You are better off going to zero employees than having one who contaminates the rest, because the radiation emitted by one contaminator is limitless.

4. Create systems that celebrate critical drivers

The best way to change the focus from the negative is to focus on the positive—and that means results. The CEO’s weekly radio address, the quarterly celebrations, the huddles—all are systems to keep the focus on positive results and on the right needles that are moving in the right direction.

5. Do the “Happy Dance”

It’s hard work managing a culture. When you have a breakthrough, celebrate! Then keep working the systems that got you there—making sure to keep the happy bus moving toward all key indicators.

Yes, this is the tough stuff…but it’s also the part that cannot be ignored IF you want to create predictable success. There are no steps that can be missed on the path to excellence.

Case Studies:

Metabank Case Study
Adams Bank Case Study
The Farmers Bank case study

More Strategies:



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