Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Details Matter


My brother-in-law was a successful high school baseball coach for 30 years. During his coaching days, he mowed and prepared the field for play and ordered and repaired the equipment. He set expectations as to the players’ appearance. He taught in detail such things as how players should put on their socks, how a hat should sit on the head, how players should work the glove and store the glove when not being used. When it was practice time, his focus was on the players. The first five practices he would not let them use gloves. He wanted to be certain they could handle the ball. He videotaped the players’ swings and charted every pitch for the pitchers. He met with each player to discuss at least three positives and three areas of improvement based on the observations. He conducted separate practice sessions for players having difficulty with certain skills. During the game he watched every move so that when the players came off the field he could give them pointers and positive feedback. When they did something right, he exclaimed “good job” and patted players on the back. He analyzed the scorebook after the game and met with the players at the next practice to offer suggestions for improvement. He had them practice to the suggestions.

He was truly what coaching and the love of the game is all about.

Those are the techniques and the passion we need to emphasize as we coach our teams. I offer you five simple steps for developing a successful team.

  1. Prepare your team with detailed skill development
  2. Allow them to practice with someone: you, a peer, or a mentor. Role-play is the most effective form of practice because feedback can be provided immediately
  3. Set both numerical and behavioral goals, e.g. not just 3 additional products per account opening but a profile conducted with each interaction
  4. Observe “on the grass” – live, real-time observation
  5. Offer honest, detailed observational feedback. Without honest feedback, improper skills sets will be cemented into the behavior of your employee, which is not fair to the employee, to clients/members, or to your organization.

Let me know how these steps work for you.

By the way…Happy Spring and Play Ball!!!!!

Cynthia Whitmer Griffith is a Performance Results Network Results Consultant for Community Banks and Credit Unions at Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

If It’s So Obvious, Why Aren’t We Doing It?


Practice makes perfect. Some of us grew up hearing this phrase whenever we were learning anything new—whether it was playing the piano, learning algebra, or trying a new sport.

We accept the need for practice in these areas without question. We understand that continuing to practice and train is the only way to maintain a high standard of performance. But when it comes to our business life, we ignore the need for practice.

Professional athletes practice 40 or more hours a week for just a few hours on the field in the game. During their practice coaches are observing, modeling, and correcting performance in every skill required to play the game.

In business it seems the exact opposite is the norm. Team members receive a few hours of training a year for 40 hours a week in the game with clients. Okay, perhaps you also have regular, formal coaching sessions. But when was the last time you actually observed your team members interacting with clients and provided them with specific feedback on what they could do to improve?

The key to meaningful coaching that drives performance results is so obvious. It’s just like sports—it takes constant practice and the observation and feedback of a coach who’s focused on building the skills of his or her team.

Your thoughts?

Cynthia Leverich is Director of Global Business Development for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Tellers Make All the Difference


Think about the number of people the average teller sees in one week. Ten people a day, five days a week. That’s 50 people a week. In a year (48 weeks), that would be around 2,400 contacts.

Every organization has a certain set of “service” expectations for tellers, such as greeting the client/member by name, being courteous and pleasant, accuracy, closing the interaction with words of assistance, and the most valuable of all—creating awareness and making referrals.

Yes, I said valuable. There are dollars attached to creating awareness and referrals. If only 5% of the 2,400 contacts a teller makes during the year result in an account being opened, this would come to 120 new accounts. If the annual revenue of an account is based at $50 (and that is on the low side), the teller has generated $6,000 for the year. How many tellers are in your organization?

Very simply, have tellers use this phrase, “Has anyone told you…” Now, add in a benefit, “…how you can save time…” Finally, include the product or service “…with our 24-hour on-line banking?” “Has anyone told you how you can save time with our 24-hour on-line banking?” Now use this phrase with CONSISTENCY!

The client responds, “Tell me more.” At this point, the teller makes the introduction to the sales professional. “Let me introduce you to Amy, who can provide you with all the details.”

Script it with your team, role-play it, use it live, and let me know how much income the tellers in your organization generate next week.

Cynthia Whitmer Griffith is a Performance Results Network Results Consultant for Community Banks and Credit Unions at Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Go Fast, Leave Skid Marks


skid marksClients often ask how to successfully manage culture change in their organizations, and my first response is to tell them to move quickly. If you allow the change process to drag on endlessly you’ll only meet more resistance. Culture change in an organization is hard to manage, and it requires clear and frequent communication as well as decisive action to be successful.

Here’s a short list of things to remember:

  1. Create and communicate a vision for the future that engages everyone in the organization. Promote it, sell it, and make it exciting. Explain the rationale and necessity of the change. Don’t waste time analyzing the present culture and way of doing business – look to the future.
  2. Question everything. Existing policies and procedures are part of the old culture and may be creating unnecessary obstacles to change. Simplify where possible, using your vision of the future as a guide.
  3. Shake things up – it’s a new day. Restructure, redefine roles, and realign brand, marketing, processes, and incentives so that they reflect where the organization is headed.
  4. Insist on involvement. Everyone must be personally accountable for transforming the culture. If you let team members watch from the sidelines, you increase the odds of resistance.
  5. Break old habits by providing new routines. Assist your teams in transforming the culture by training new skills and behaviors. Redirect training to support the culture change.

Finally, avoid the pain of a thousand small or incremental changes. Go Fast, Leave Skid Marks.

Your thoughts?

Cynthia Leverich is Director of Global Business Development for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.