Magazine article American Banker

Weekly Adviser: Sitting in Meetings All Day Is No Way to Run a Bank

Magazine article American Banker

Weekly Adviser: Sitting in Meetings All Day Is No Way to Run a Bank

Article excerpt

Whenever I bring a banker into my PhD seminar to discuss changes taking place in the industry, I ask: "What do you do all day long?"

Sometimes I get a significant silence, and sometimes I get the comment: "I'm so busy all day that I can't be specific. Every day is different."

But astute bankers frequently say, "I follow MBWA -- management by wandering around." What they mean is that they make a practice of talking to employees and customers at random to learn what problems the bank faces and find out where bankers should devote their attention.

When I ask, "What percentage of your day can you plan, instead of just putting out fires and handling the immediate problems of staff members?" these astute bankers say that half a day or less is the most that can be scheduled in advance.

Unfortunately, too many top people at banks spend their days "filling in boxes" -- that is, keeping to a tight schedule of meeting after meeting.

"Tuesday is the day for the planning meeting," a CEO might tell my class. All the members of the planning committee fill in time boxes on their schedules -- several hours each Tuesday, or even the whole day. And they attend those meetings like clockwork even on days when nothing really requires any group planning from them.

Bankers are known for spending a lot of time in meetings. Maybe the reason is that once a decision on a loan or investment is made, all that really needs to be done is infrequent monitoring. …

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