Magazine article American Banker

At Some Banks, Lower-Level Workers Assessing Superiors

Magazine article American Banker

At Some Banks, Lower-Level Workers Assessing Superiors

Article excerpt

Impressing the boss has always been the surest route to career advancement in banking's rigid chain of command.

But at a handful of banks, it may become necessary to win the approval of underlings too.

Banks such as CoreStates Financial Corp., BankAmerica Corp., and Chase Manhattan Corp. are experimenting with "360 degree" or multisource feedback- an approach to performance evaluations that factors in the assessments of a worker's peers and subordinates as well as his or her supervisors.

These institutions are following such large nonbank companies as Federal Express Corp., General Electric Co., and Motorola, which have helped turn 360-degree feedback into a 1990s management fad.

While no banks are committed to making this approach companywide policy yet, it's clear that they are heading in that direction, albeit slowly and cautiously.

"Is it the goal of (CoreStates chief executive officer) Terry Larsen that every employee get feedback from those who work with them, both from below and from above," said Nelson Parrish, CoreState's vice president for cultural implementation.

Mr. Larsen's sentiments put him ahead of many of his colleagues.

"Banks have grown up in a control and command structure," said Charles Wendel, president of New York-based Financial Institutions Consulting. "Junior people just don't criticize senior people."

Plus, the barriers against rolling out such a program are somewhat daunting.

For example, at CoreStates, where about 1,200 of the bank's 19,000 employees have been assessed with 360-degree feedback, it takes between 30 to 60 days for an evaluation to be prepared. …

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