In today’s business culture, can a bank attain great bottom line results without merging, acquiring another bank, or adopting a sales culture? According to Jay Stafford—President and CEO of Benchmark Community Bank in Kenbridge, Virginia—the answer is yes.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jay. A Fredericksburg native, Jay married a Southside girl and moved to Lunenburg County, a mostly agricultural area near her hometown of Blackstone, where tobacco was once the primary cash crop. Although he has seen the area deteriorate over the years, he is very passionate about what he does there and wants to make a difference in this community. He knows that Benchmark Community Bank is one of the larger employers in the area, and if Benchmark went away, then the town would be severely impacted.
Jay said that 50% of his employees have been with Benchmark less than five years, not because of turnover but because of growth. He said their culture has been instrumental in contributing to that growth.
In his own words, here’s how Jay Stafford has grown Benchmark Community Bank and its great bottom line results through building the right culture.
Remember the last time that you were part of a team assigned to create a deliverable? Whether it was weeks ago on the job or years ago at school, what stood out to you? Chances are that you had a bad experience. Most people recall those projects as disasters: no one really understood what they were supposed to do—but if they did, they got stuck doing all the work for the team. So how is it that Google has had such success working in teams? What makes a Google team successful?
From the Google blog, here are the five key attributes of a Google team.
As a leader, you are tugged in different directions all the time. Some people want you to do one thing, and others want you to do something else. You are constantly being asked to do things that are outside the scope of your focus. And your default answer must be no.
It’s not easy saying no. But that’s why you’re the leader. It’s important for you to focus on where you know you need to go. You can’t do what others will suggest most of the time. That’s why you have to be prepared to say no most of the time.
There are three reasons why your default answer must be no.
It’s important to take the time to congratulate your team on a job done well. When they perform well it’s imperative to tell them that they did a good job. But how do you keep your team motivated when they have had failure after failure despite their best efforts? At those times, your team needs you to reinforce their psychological safety. They need you to validate them.
While rewarding your team for their performance is good, appreciating your team for their person is better. As Mike Robbins says in Harvard Business Review, “recognition is about what people do; appreciation is about who they are.” The people on your team are humans before they are employees. They need you to validate them.
Here are three ways that you can validate your team members in the normal course of your everyday work.
Assembling the right team is essential to having a thriving workplace. It is important to know what you need when hiring your key positions. Unless you are extremely self-aware, you might not know what you need. That’s why diversity is a key component of any human resources strategy.
Diversity doesn’t just have to be limited to what people look like on the outside. While that is helpful to assembling a strong team, it’s important to go deeper than that. It’s essential to know how to hire based on what your team looks like on the inside.
Here are three things to think through when applying diversity to hiring your key team members.
On Sunday I played Monopoly with my kids. I hadn’t played that game in years. As we sat down to play, I looked at the rules. Since it had been so long since I played Monopoly, I wanted to familiarize myself with the purpose of the game.
Under the section entitled, How to win, here’s the purpose of Monopoly.
Move around the board buying as many properties as you can. The more you own, the more rent you’ll be able to collect from other players. If you’re the last player with money when all other players have gone bankrupt, you win!
It seems American society believes that’s what business is all about: win by crushing your competition. The very foundations of capitalism have been crumbling, in no small measure because many companies have had a win-at-all-costs strategy. While your business may not be guilty of a Monopoly mentality, society at large thinks you are. Here’s what that means for you, and what you can do about it.
As a leader, one of your greatest assets is the morale of your team. How you wield your influence can profoundly affect the culture of your organization. The more intentional and consistent you are in building the culture, the greater the benefits you will see from your leadership. That’s why it is so important to create a build morale in your company.
Most of the time morale is noticed only because it’s lacking. No one typically thinks about morale if it’s good. You will do everyone on your team a favor if they don’t notice the (lack of) morale in your company.
Here are five ways you can build morale in your company—and create a Team Culture in the process.
How do you look at the difficult employees on your team? Could it be that you are looking at them the wrong way?
I’m not saying that everyone is fixable. It may ultimately be better for everyone if the difficult employees wouldn’t work at your organization anymore. I think Abraham Lincoln got it right when he said that people are usually as happy as they make up their minds to be. Nonetheless, you may be the one to help those difficult employees change their minds.
Difficult people have been through difficult stuff. And hurt people hurt people. If you just pass them off as difficult employees then you may be missing a huge opportunity—for them and for you.
Here are three questions you can use to look at difficult employees differently.
A new study led by Baylor University demonstrates a correlation between a manager’s focus on bottom line results and their employees’ lack of performance. According to the research led by Dr. Matthew Quade and published in the journal Human Relations, “Supervisors who focus only on profits to the exclusion of caring about other important outcomes, such as employee well-being or environmental or ethical concerns, turn out to be detrimental to employees.”
The article continues by saying that these employer-employee “relationships … are marked by distrust, dissatisfaction and lack of affection for the supervisor” which produces “employees who are less likely to complete tasks at a high level and less likely to go above and beyond the call of duty.” Managers must be careful about what they wish for. Because they might get it.
When managers focus too much on the bottom line, then employees consciously or unconsciously respond negatively. Here’s how you can rescue your company’s productivity and profitability by making your bottom line not the bottom line.
Innovation is a big buzzword today. People are saying how important it is to innovate. But innovation doesn’t just happen. It has to be properly cultivated. Because innovation requires a safe place to fail.
Today employers demand innovation of their employees. But they aren’t providing what’s necessary to innovate. C.S. Lewis said in The Abolition of Man, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function.” People feel forced to innovate but they aren’t given what they need to be innovative. Your team won’t risk failure if they feel they must succeed.
If you want to create a truly innovative workplace, then you must make sure that you have built your culture on three successive layers. Only with these three layers in place can you produce a safe place capable of producing innovation.