Monthly Archives: June 2012

What Have You Done Today?


There she is, my relationship banker hidden inside her cubicle prison, looking out of the corner of her eye hoping that she will have a good day today.

I stand in queue as my needs today are primarily transactional, but when faced with a young female cashier with the look of angst in her brow, I can’t help but agree to an appointment to meet a banker regarding new offers.

I knew I was going to see Lucy, my relationship banker since she helped open my account for me and my husband over a year ago. I also know that Lucy is not particularly keen on being here, working for this bank. But it makes for a funny conversation, plus I could really use the opportunity to review my finances.

I enter Lucy’s cubicle, and she stands up to greet me. She knows me and understands that I empathise with her situation. But she looks tired, really, very tired. As she clicks away at her computer, she acknowledges this by saying, ‘I’m so tired, I could cry.’

She then resumes by saying, ‘I’ve decided…I’m going to resign.’

‘What, really!?’ I exclaim, half shocked, half expecting this scenario.

‘Oh, yes. I’m just tired of this place, of busting my butt for nothing, of being asked everyday, “what have you done today?”’

She picks up a business card from a deck she spills over with fervour, hands it to me and says: ‘Look…just look at my title. What does it say?’

I read ‘Relationship Banker’ and nod. She continues, ‘It’s like everything I am expected to do these days goes against the whole aspect of building a relationship.’

‘Wow, Lucy, I’m sorry to hear that. I really like you and can’t imagine having a different relationship banker.’ Then I ask, ‘If one thing changed today to keep you here, what would that be?’

‘The rankings’, she said. ‘The “what have you done today” mentality.’ By ‘rankings’ she meant the notion of selling more versus the quality of the sale. The mentality at the bank has turned into ‘more is more’ therefore, ‘push for quantity’, and Lucy clarified that this push was at the cost of losing favourable client relationships. This short-term mentality also meant that employees such as Lucy were heavily impacted, emotionally and financially. ‘When are you turning in your resignation?’

Lucy half smiles responding: ‘At the end of today, depending on how today goes.’

‘What’s the determining factor, Lucy?’

‘If I get my bonus. It’s a pittance to begin with, but at least it’s some form of acknowledgement.’

‘What will you do if you resign?’ I ask.

Lucy yawns then says, ‘Take a break.’

Your thoughts?

Neda Bayat is Global Business Consultant for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc. and Breakthrough PerformanceTech, LLC.

You’ve Got Some ’Splainin’ to Do!


My friend Margaret’s life is like a series of “I Love Lucy” episodes. The latest (and I will be brief) is hilarious but has a lesson for all of us. She works for a bank in a downtown metropolitan area and stays late at the office. Last week, she talked to her husband as she walked to the car at 11:30 pm. “Made it safely” she said. “I’ll see you in 15 minutes.” She popped in a book on tape, and accidentally redialed her husband, who heard: “if you cooperate, I won’t hurt you.” The book on tape…, but he didn’t know that. Oh, you can only imagine where the story goes from here.

At the conclusion of the story, I asked “What did you learn from this? (And the answer is not ‘giving up books on tape!’) Margaret, you should not have to work until midnight! Time management! Who and what is stealing your time? Take control.”

Easier said than done, right? How do you take control? Here are a few suggestions:

Batch Process

  • Batch processing means that you complete all the like type of tasks at one time so your mind is in the routine. Outbound calls, tracking, observation, returning telephone calls or emails.

Prioritize

  • Define what is urgent versus simply important. And then handle the urgent tasks first. Communication and clarity are a must when prioritizing.

Time Locking

  • Setting aside an hour or two each day to focus on urgent or priority tasks will provide exceptional outcomes. (But you cannot be in a perpetual time lock.)

Time Managed Action Plans

  • Plan out your entire week by the half hour with all of the tasks you need to complete. My personal experience is that it is emotionally and psychologically liberating. I used to make checklists but became frustrated that I couldn’t complete everything in a week. The problem…not enough hours in a week. A good plan shows you what you can, and can’t, accomplish in the time available.

Hope I didn’t take up too much of your time today, but you’ve got some ’splainin’ to do if you don’t at least try my tips.

Your thoughts?

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

Five Questions to Ask Your Team


It’s been a difficult few years in financial services. Trust in banks and bankers has been eroded, and consumers are coping with a new economic reality. In fact, all the media bashing of banks and the resulting customer unrest and churn has resulted in a huge opportunity for savvy bankers to acquire new customers and improve retention of their existing customer base.

Is your team prepared? To assess your frontline team’s ability to acquire and retain clients in the current environment, ask yourself these five questions:

  1. What are your bankers saying to clients to differentiate your bank from your competitors? Is there a consistent message that accurately reflects your brand?
  2. What type of customer-focused training has been provided to your bankers to address the public’s growing concern with the banking industry?
  3. How often is your frontline team observed and coached in the art of conducting a quality customer conversation designed to uncover needs?
  4. When was the last time your management team received training in coaching and customer-service skills?
  5. What formalized process is currently in place to reinforce and embed key sales and service behaviors?

Let us know your thoughts and the questions you’re asking your team.

Cynthia Leverich is Director of Global Business Development for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc. Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Stay En Route, Take Detour or Go Home: It’s Your Choice!


On my way to work this morning, I encountered a major traffic collision that caused me some delay. My GPS identified the delay and asked: ‘Would you like to Take the Detour or Stay En Route?’

‘As if I have a choice!’ I said aloud to myself as I clicked on ‘Take Detour.’

Huffing and puffing away in sweltering heat, my mind wandered to my recent post about Success on my Harvard Business Review LinkedIn Group. I’d posted that our CEO has been known to quote: ‘Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.’

I laughed out loud. My idea of success this morning, or perhaps for the day, would be to make it to work before the day was over!

My eyes gazed upon the trail of headlights that zoomed past me on the opposite side of the road. I was tempted to turn around and go back home.

But I stayed the course, making the analogy in my mind that, much like the road blocks of my day, in life I have faced challenges and will face obstacles that may delay my progress. But that’s life.

Our CEO’s quote to me means that being successful means reaching your destination no matter what. In a way, it’s like having a good, working internal GPS. Staying “en route” as much as possible, but also being willing to take a detour, try something new, find a new path to the same end goal. The idea is not allowing the roadblocks to deter us to the brink of no return. The idea is to keep going where others may give up. In my work I see it all the time. Sometimes people realize they’re on the wrong path, and they do change course completely. For example in the banking industry, a Cashier or Teller argues: ‘I am a Cashier not a salesperson’ when his or her manager sets new targets.

But other times people just don’t want to rise to the challenge because it takes them out of their comfort zone. It could be that same Cashier who desires progress, more money and more job satisfaction, but the fear of failure or fear of rejection is too intense. They decide that as soon as a road block presents itself, for example, an objection from a customer, to give up completely. ‘See I told you I don’t sell!’ They don’t look for that detour. In this case, it’s learning more about the customer or learning how to handle the objection better next time.

This is an acquired mentality. We are not all naturally born sales people, for example, but being willing to learn is truly what differentiates those who succeed in business from those who remain comfortable and complacent. You may encounter these people at your work place. They generally complain that they are underpaid and overworked. In a way these days, who isn’t underpaid and overworked!? But why allow yourself to be deterred by the challenges of work, and the road blocks that delay progress?

In the end, when it’s within my control, I shall remember my internal GPS. And remember I have two options: To Stay En Route or Take the Detour.

Whatever I choose, I’ll ‘never, Never, NEVER SWITCH OFF!’

Your thoughts?

Neda Bayat is Global Business Consultant for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc. and Breakthrough PerformanceTech, LLC.