Magazine article American Banker

Comment: Education Can Make Employees Feel like Part of Your Team

Magazine article American Banker

Comment: Education Can Make Employees Feel like Part of Your Team

Article excerpt

Making employees more efficient after a downsizing is hard work. An important step is to make sure they all feel they are part of a team working to help the bank achieve its goals.

The best test is whether they talk about the bank and its decision makers as "we" or "they." A teller or platform person who answers a question with "They have this policy" instead of "It is our policy" makes a terrible impression and shows that employees feel they have no part in making the bank succeed.

What can be done about this?

The first step is education. Employees must understand the bank's goals and the role their work plays in accomplishing them.

I learned this a number of years ago when officials at First National Citibank, now part of Citigroup, realized that most of its employees thought that profits in the United States, and in banking in particular, vastly exceeded salaries.

Citi came to me to set up a course it called "Economics for the Thinking Citizen." It involved 10 sessions and included topics like the role of bank capital, how prices and interest rates are set, and the relation between wages and profits. (Wages were then 20 or more times profits in our nation.)

The students were volunteered to come. They included night-shift people and part-timers who came to this once-a-week morning class on their own time. The class must have been useful, as Citi ran it about 10 times.

But turning "they" into "we" takes more than teaching about the economy. Your employees also need to know where your bank fits into the profit structure, what decisions they make that affect profits, and how the bank compares with others in efficiency and profitability. If your bank compares poorly, their education should include an explanation. …

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