Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Four Powerful Words

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Four Powerful Words

Article excerpt

"Just do things right." According to people who have worked with him a long time, that's what Matt Williams often says at some point in the weekly employee meetings he holds at Gothenburg State Bank.

Hard to argue with those simple words.

Much harder, however, is to actually put them into practice. "Doing things right," after all, pretty much covers the waterfront of human behavior.

For example, there's a cable television program, "Holmes on Homes," in which a Canadian contractor, Mike Holmes, arrives at someone's house to put right some other contractor's project that has gone badly wrong. Invariably in each episode he will say, "If they had just put a little more effort into this it could have turned out right." Or words to that effect.

In any business you have a simple choice: You do it right or you don't. It's an attitude that defines a business, or, more properly, defines the people running the business--leaders and workers. Usually when the leader sets such a standard, he or she will tend to attract, seek out, and hold onto the kind of people who want to steer their lives by that compass.

It can be easier to communicate this in a small business, to be sure--Gothenburg State Bank has 28 employees. But it can be done in bigger institutions.

Recently a banker related to us how the megabank he had previously worked for, through a series of poor judgments relating to customer pricing, had lost its customers' trust. The banker said that the CEO of the bank sent a video message to all employees stating that he would never again ask them to explain something to a customer that they weren't comfortable with. …

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