3 steps to finding the right fit for your people

As I sit here on a cold snowy Sunday morning, coming up with excuses for not going out and shoveling the driveway, I have little choice but to watch the endless stream of shows on TV about the current NFL playoffs. As I listen to the talking heads droll on about the minutia of what used to be a pretty simple game, I’m struck by one comment from a former player.

He said in regard to a certain team from the Northeast (who will remain nameless because I’m tired of them winning every year) that their system is responsible for their persistent winning and the players are “almost plug-and-play.” Meaning, it doesn’t matter who the players are, if they perform according to the systems implemented by the coaching staff, the team will continue to win.

I thought about whether that’s true in football but also in the banking business. Is it our systems that make us successful or is it our people? Could we replace our entire staff with new hires and still continue to succeed? After all, this unnamed football team seems to turnover much of their roster every year – except for the Quarterback – and they keep winning.

When thinking about our people and the role they play in our success it’s important to think about it from our customers’ perspective, not ours. If we only answered it from our perspective the answer for many of us would probably be “no”. We want to keep our people and develop them and see them succeed. We’ve invested a great deal of resources in them already; let’s let them stick it out until they make it work.

When my firm meets with new clients about their primary business challenges, many say that keeping good people is at or near the top of their list. Loosing good people, on the other hand, rolls back progress toward strategic objectives; erodes esprit-de-corps; curtails tactical plan deployment; and stresses staff, especially managers and supervisors who have to pick up the slack. Oh, and that doesn’t even talk about the cost of replacing that employee through recruitment, training, and onboarding.

But is turnover always bad … even when it means losing “good” people?

Take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself if your definition of “good” is what it should be. Better yet, ask if your definition mirrors that of your consumers. Are you assessing your people and their performance in a truly accurate manner or are rose-colored glasses causing you to see them different than they really are … or how your consumers see and experience them?

We’ve always known that our people are important but just how important are they today and in the future? Financial services are becoming more and more digital every day so how important will people be to tomorrow’s consumers? Well, the answer appears to be very important. In fact, a recent study by Support EXP (www.supportexp.com) found that the highest scoring driver in terms of Net Promoter Score is People.

Even in the era of digital banking and omnichannel delivery, great people are important and the easy access to those people is critical for helping your organization standout through the consistent delivery of outstanding consumer experiences. If you want to differentiate your brand, it’s your people that will allow you to do that. Financial institutions that hold their own in the marketplace with products, pricing, and convenience will win only if they can also emerge from the pack because of the experiences created by their people.

Returning to a previous point, many organizations need to redefine “good people” to fit the demands of today’s world. Jim Collins famously wrote that we need to get the right people in the right seats on the bus. But a lesser-known corresponding point from his landmark book, Good to Great, is the degree of sheer rigor an organization needs when making people decisions. Don’t settle for the people who have gotten you to this point in time; be rigorous in determining who you need to get you to the next point, and the next point, and so on.

In the football story I mentioned earlier, the Head Coach has a very precise set of characteristics and criteria for each and every role on the team. He is stringent in sticking to those qualities and uncompromising when selecting players to fill those roles. That’s not to say that he never changes his strategy – he changes his strategy regularly based on trends in the game and his anticipated opponents. But he also is willing to change his players to fit those new roles that are needed to drive his new or modified strategy.

How many times do we try to fit an “old” employee into a “new” role only to find that it’s a disastrous fit? Do we say that we’ll continue to give him/her chances until they successfully make the change (even if it means delivering substandard experiences in the meantime)? Do we repeatedly make excuses for the employee’s insufficient performance? How do fellow employees and consumers feel when they see that the employee is clearly in the wrong role but executives fail to see it?

A study by Right Management says that 1 in 5 employees are in the wrong roles. And recently, my firm surveyed employees at a credit union and found that over 50% of frontline staffed said they were not a good fit for the primary requirement of their job. Wow, so much for them creating a positive experience and being your brand ambassadors!

Three keys to avoiding this disastrous situation:

  1. Be rigorous in defining exactly what characteristics you need to execute your strategy – and recognize that those current and future characteristics are likely different than those of the past
  2. When in doubt about someone, don’t hire or move them into a different role – it’s awful to have an empty chair but it’s worse in the long run to try and fit the wrong person into that chair
  3. When you have someone in the wrong role, move them over or out so you can find the right person for that role – and do it swiftly

To receive a white paper that talks more about the vital role of people in mapping your consumers’ journeys or if you’d like to further discuss how to get and keep good people, please send me an email at probert@fi-strategies.com or call 636-578-3280.

And on behalf of the rest of the football world, let’s hope that dynasty team from New England doesn’t win again this year☺!

Paul Robert

Paul Robert

Paul Robert has been helping financial institutions drive their retail growth strategies for over 20 years. Paul is the Chief Consulting Officer for FI Strategies, LLC, a private consulting company ... Web: fi-strategies.com Details

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