Golfers Make Better Bankers 12 Reasons to Start Wearing Your Spikes to the Office
Hales, Michael G., Devine, James R., The RMA Journal
Strategic planning for community banks deserves at least as much energy as a banker's golf game. The authors introduce Peak Performance Banking-and how to get there.
It's no secret-most bankers love to be on the golf course. It doesn't matter if you are a duffer or a scratch golfer, and whether you play Pebble Beach or Midtown Municipal. It's the same scenario for a start-up or a global financial services provider. Golf provides a challenge, a break from the office, a social environment, and a business development and relationship management venue of choice. It provides camaraderie and serves as the kick-off to most banking conferences.
But here is an interesting irony: as a general rule, we put considerably more strategic thinking into our golf game than we do into the management of our banks. You don't agree? Hop aboard our golf cart for a lighthearted look at the game as well as a serious look at Peak Performance Banking. While we're at it, we'll show you how to play better golf at work.
Every year, Commercial Community Bank hosts an annual Strategic Planning Retreat attended by all directors, senior management, department heads, branch managers, and their respective families. The location of the retreat changes periodically, but there is always one requirement: the meeting and lodging facilities provide a Robert Trent Jones Jr. or Jack Nicklaus designed golf course.
There's a short board meeting Friday evening and the formal program begins on Saturday morning with various department reports, followed by a lengthy discussion of last year's performance and next year's budget, including performance measurement goals for ROA, ROE, and the bank's efficiency ratio. For the remainder of the morning, all discussions are focused on the budget-the current year's variances and next year's goals. Lunch is served promptly at noon and the shotgun tee-off of the annual golf tournament is at 1 p.m. Saturday night's dinner (with family) is focused on awards-not for individual or departmental banking performance but for low gross, low net, closest to the pin, and longest drive. Sunday's morning meeting is a recap of the budget discussion, distribution of personal and department goals (all of which are budget-driven), a few more golf jokes, and the unanimous commitment that "next year will be better than last." By noon everyone has checked out and is heading for home at the end of another successful annual strategic planning retreat.
What's wrong with this picture? Let's look at it in golfing terms: Imagine that your drive was 280 yards right down the center of the fairway. You lie 110 yards out, slightly tip hill from the pin. The wind is blowing from your back at about 10 miles per hour and you have a clear shot to the green. Would you tee-up the ball again right there in the middle of the fairway and drive your second shot with your titanium-head, graphite-shaft Big Bertha, using the logic that "it got you this far, why change now?"
Probably not. Then why do we fall into the same budget-driven strategic-planning rut, year after year? Why are we constantly using the wrong club at work, while when we are on the course we try to make every club selection with the professional finesse and cunning foresight of Tiger Woods?
There are some unique similarities between golfers and top-performing bankers. Nobody is suggesting that you have to golf like Tiger to be a Peak Performance Banker; you simply have to use the same strategic approach when you're making critical decisions in the hank that you make on the course. Peak Performance Banking, like golf, is reliant on no one single factor but rather on how you respond to a multitude of internal and external factors that, to a certain degree, change every day. Sound complicated? It is.
But, like golf, certain technological advances have greatly simplified the process. Before discussing those advances, we need to compare the similarities of the strategies of golf and the strategies of peak performance banking. …