Commercial Loan Automation
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BirdsEye Viewkeeping the culture alive and other quandaries in the era of covid
Bank CEOs have been navigating uncharted waters for over a year now. By and large, their leadership is admirable. They steered their ship on a dime from 100% workplace workforce to largely a home-based workforce; stood up a PPP process that kept changing daily (sometimes even more often); and many have witnessed excellent Net Promoted Scores as customers expressed their appreciation for the great efforts put forth by the entire industry on their behalf.
At this point we are well past the initial shock, even past the second shock wave, onto exploring the next stage of the journey into the unknown: what’s next?
CEOs are asking many strategic questions they didn’t have to ask before, such as:
These deep questions go beyond numerous tactical questions, such as:
CEOs and Human Capital Directors are hard at work answering both types of questions, from developing remote work policies to assessing how to keep the culture alive when some of the workforce isn’t onsite frequently.
There is much disagreement regarding these questions, even among the most cohesive executive teams. Below are several ideas on how to approach the strategic questions related to maintaining the culture post-pandemic, as we begin to contemplate returning to work within a still-uncertain environment.
Culture is the lifeline of most successful organization. It is the secret sauce that separate short-term success from longer-term longevity and continuity. This has been recognized by many successful CEOs, and they have effectively nurtured and disseminated the culture during their tenure. Traditionally culture building, sharing and nurturing were all done in-person. Now that most CEOs accept that their organizations are unlikely to return to work in full force, and that work-from-home (WFH) is here to stay to some extent, questions are being raised about how to keep the culture flame burning when some employees are not often on-site. It is challenging enough to keep a culture real and alive; it is a formidable challenge doing so without in-person contact.
Our CEOs and HR executives have shared tools and ideas for keeping your culture alive. These tools aren’t necessarily limited to a remote working environment; they are effective in all situations, but they do work well remotely.
· Stories/corporate lore
o Sharing stories that embody your culture at every possible opportunity, every multiple employees’ gathering, helps bring your culture and values to life. There is nothing more powerful than stories which show how your values were translated into actions by your staff and leadership. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to recognize those who are your finest culture ambassadors.
· Virtual or tangible walls
o Another way to share your stories is by posting them on your intranet “wall” or even a tangible one where actual employee and customer testimonials are posted.
· Corporate lore book for prospective employees and customers
o Some banks have curated a collection of testimonials and published them in the form of a book that can be shared with prospective employees and customers alike. The stories speak volumes, especially with prospects, as they demonstrate that the corporate values in the values statements are indeed a code to live by, not just empty words.
· Personal sharing
o Teams greatly appreciate leadership sharing of personal triumphs and struggles. While getting too personal is certainly unadvisable, sharing vulnerabilities, including not knowing all the answers, resonates well with most teams, and creates a basis of commonality across the leader and their team. As my friend Richard Green, CEO of Firstrust, says, “We’re cooking without a recipe” right now, and it’s the first to acknowledge it.
Also, people are curious about each other, and learning some about the leader, even a factoid such as what dog they have or their favorite dish, has a connecting effect.
· Random communication
o All communications are valued, and unscheduled communication and ad-hoc communication are highly valued.
· All-employee virtual gatherings
o One might think that virtual gatherings are not as impactful; during COVID times they have been very impactful, and build up demand for future in-person all-employee gatherings. Sharing the same consistent message with all employees is important and powerful, as well as engaging. It allows the entire team to get on the same page, and builds a feeling of togetherness, whether virtual or in-person.
· Start all meetings with a statement about culture
o Every time people get together presents an opportunity to remind everyone why we are here and how we do things. Repetition of these elements highlights how important they are, and how they connect into daily lives and everyday decisions.
· Borrow from the Ritz-Carlton ethos
o The Ritz-Carlton hotels were created with a certain customer experience in mind. It was a very specific experience which was defined by 20+ values/actions. Every employee across the entire workforce spent the first five minutes of their workday discussing one of these values. Every employee was expected to be able to recite them and what they mean to them and to the company. The results was incredible consistency of experience across all hotels for many years. Creating such consistency is hard to do, and the Ritz-Carlton’s method is one way of getting there. It is particularly relevant during COVID times when in-person new employee onboarding is unacceptable in most cases.
· Use music to bond the team
o This might be just my own self-reflection. I’ve always found music to bring smiles to everyone’s faces, as it typically reminds us of happy and carefree times. Why not create your own playlist, comprised of employees’ top track selections? It likely will be diverse, reflect several decades and tug and everyone’s heart strings at least when their own song is being played.
· “The way we do things around here”
o Richard Green, CEO of Firstrust, has developed years ago this handbook to share with every single employee. Its title says it all/ It helps newcomers understand what’s expected and the behavior code of the organization. It demystifies the “unwritten rules” of the company by writing them down. What a great idea!
· Articulate your PURPOSE
o The purpose of each organization is clear to most of its incumbents, but not to all, and certainly not to newcomers. In today’s challenging onboarding times, being crystal clear about your purpose is more important than ever. A good example is CrossFirst Bank, whose purpose is “Serving people in extraordinary ways”. This sentence speaks volumes to me, and, I’m sure, to many of the company’s employees.
· Identify how your actions achieve your purpose
· Identify how your actions achieve your purpose
o PPP is a fantastic example of a major bank-wide effort that made a huge difference in your communities and clients’ lives. All of us community banks saved millions of jobs by disbursing the PPP funds, despite incredible obstacles and constantly changing rules. That’s a major accomplishment that can be directly linked into our purpose and mission. There are others, including your efforts to improve the customer experience, diversity and inclusion activities and more.