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5 Easy Steps To Creating Internal Cultures That Rock

by | Workplace Culture


Try this as a 30-Day Turnaround:

Why is it that a $450 million bank with nine years of flat organic growth suddenly had an annualized growth rate of 35 percent within 30 days of one culture intervention?

Why is it that a $920 million bank consistently ranked in the fourth quartile—a fact which they blamed on their low-income, shrinking market—eventually moved into the first quartile after experiencing over 20 percent growth, seeing significant quality improvement, and tripling ROE… all within three years with no improvement to their market?

Previously, both of these banks had done sales training for years with virtually NO impact on growth or profits.

Then, they got it.

“It” is the understanding of what makes a sales culture work. But what didn’t they “get” before these extraordinary results in growth and performance?

1. Marketing is not a department

Marketing is a mindset, and everyone must understand it. But most banks think marketing is advertising, so they waste resources buying cutesy slogan ads that have minimal ROI. They do “marketing studies” that tell them little about the psychographics of their most profitable customers. They do “brand advertising”—the biggest waste of resources of all. Marketing is NOT advertising. It’s a mindset to be owned by all.

Every person at your bank should know your target markets, know how to communicate to target prospects in those markets why your bank is perfect for them, and clearly understand the unique selling proposition for each market that positions you for premium pricing.

If you don’t instill this mindset in your people, sales training is a waste, and you will always be dragged down to the pricing of your most desperate competitor.

2. Employee buy-in is the cornerstone

Until you engage employees’ hearts, you have no chance of a powerful or sustainable breakthrough. Research by the Corporate Executive Board shows that those employees who are “true believers” —who value, enjoy, and believe in what they do—displayed 57 percent more discretionary effort and were 87 percent less likely to leave a job.

Until your people are called to a higher purpose, nothing great will happen. And making a higher ROA is NOT a higher purpose.

A vision of extraordinary impact enrolls hearts and minds. Your people must believe they are called to be “on a mission.” When an employee feels like what they do matters and that you’re noticing the progress they’re making toward that vision, turnaround is rapid and profound.

3. Make small steps with extreme focus, sense of urgency, “no-wiggle” accountability and wild celebration

Bankers have to learn the basics of organizational development. They must understand that all initiatives must be broken down to the point where people learn to crawl with impeccable grace before they walk, and only begin to run when the walking is perfect. Sales is “the running.” Service is “the crawling and walking.” Service must be broken down and perfected.

Simply stated, it is a waste of resources to do sales training until you have shored up all the leaks in your customer-service execution. Managers don’t know how to build the confidence of their people and help them understand that they CAN do anything. That base of success makes it much easier for them to learn.

4. Change your bank’s order-taking culture by establishing a breakthrough system

All banks have a system for balancing drawers. They also have a system for processing loans. However, these same banks—who have been talking about sales culture for years—still have virtually no sales system. Yet they can’t understand why their cross-sales ratios are at 1.2 or why 80 percent of their rate inquiries go on to do business with a competitor.

Do you really think your drawers would balance if you hadn’t created and followed a system? Unless your bank has a sales system based on proven practices that work, you really have no hope of improving sales results. Without a step-by-step system for each department within the bank on how to handle inquiries and referrals, even your best intentions can’t move you beyond order taking.

5. Ban dysfunctional behavior

If you build a house on a foundation with cracks, it’s a problem. Think of dysfunctional behaviors as cracks in your foundation. Unfortunately, the level of dysfunctional behavior is huge in many companies, and those behaviors are accepted as the norm.

They only exist because you allow them.

People start operating at their peak when they’re in a safe work environment. Help create that by getting everyone to agree that, as an organization, you won’t tolerate behavior such as whining, victimhood, excuses and stories, gossip, and other chaotic behaviors that undermine—and destroy—the safety of the workplace. Train employees, so they know what to do when they see those behaviors, no matter the position of the violator.

When a “problem” employee is identified and coached on improving their behavior, you must expect resolution or departure. Eighty-seven percent of employees say that working with a low performer has decreased their productivity, hampered their development, and made them want to, at some point, leave that job. Ninety-six percent of employees say they would be thrilled if their company more aggressively managed low-performers.

Protect the psyche of your people; high performers leave when dysfunctional behavior is allowed.

In your service,

Roxanne Emmerich
President and CEO

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