Results Come from Relationships

Case Study: Benchmark Community Bank

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.

Bottom Line Results

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.

A Leader Must Be Prepared to Say No

Leaders Should Not Say Yes Too Often

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.

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.

The Bottom Line is Not the Bottom Line

Be Careful with Your Most important Asset

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.”

bottom line 

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.

How Do You Make Godly Decisions?

Nine Questions to Help You Figure Out Your Next Steps

When you have to make a key decision, how do you decide what to do? It’s always important to pray and ask God about it. But how do you make godly decisions if you don’t hear from God? What next? What evaluation criteria do you use to determine whether God wants you to do something or not?

godly decisions

While you don’t want to run off half-cocked, it’s worse to be frozen in fear and do nothing. When you need to make godly decisions, it’s good to take some time in reflection and ask yourself some key questions.

When reflecting on your options, there are three ways to look at the situation. And here’s a checklist of nine questions you can use in making godly decisions.

How to Make Time for Your Priorities

Why Integration—Not Balance—Should Be Your Goal

I once heard someone say, “Priorities are what gets done. Everything else is just talk.” You have the time for all your priorities. You just have to make time. Not by balancing your priorities, but by integrating your life.

make time

When I say integrating, I am talking about the opposite of compartmentalizing. When you see your life as a whole—and not the sum of parts—then you will better be able to make time for what is important. Besides, you will never be able to achieve balance in your life. Something will always outweigh everything else in your schedule. But if you integrate your life, you can make time for what is important to you.

Here’s how you can integrate your life to make time for your priorities.

What Would Others Say Your Priorities Are?

If someone looked at your life, what would they say your priorities are? I’m not asking what you say your priorities are. I’m asking if what you say and what they say would match.

priorities

Do you live the way you say is important to you? If you say your family is important to you, would your family agree with that? If you say your team is important to you, would they see it in your actions?

Here’s how you can find out if your priorities match what you say they are—and what you can do if they don’t.

How to Make Sure You Don’t Quit

Have you ever started something that you didn’t finish? Did you wish later that you had kept at it? You have the ability to take on new things and finish them. You just need to make sure that you don’t quit.

don't quit

I know that sounds easier said than done. But you can develop the ability to see things through. You can achieve things you never thought possible. But it requires staying power. And it requires that you don’t quit.

Here’s a three step process to help make sure you finish what you start and not quit.

Do You Believe You Can Change?

Despite the pigeon holes that people will put you into, you don’t have to be the same person in ten years that you are right now. You have the privilege to change. But the question is: do you believe you can change?

believe you can change

You may agree on an intellectual level that you can change. But how about on a practical level? Do you really believe you could become the person you want to be?

Here are twenty questions in five areas to ask yourself to see if you believe you can change.

The Importance of Incremental Improvement

How do you get better at what you do? You don’t have to change yourself in a day. All that’s necessary is incremental improvement. Just one step at a time.

incremental improvement

Remember Aesop’s fable about The Tortoise and The Hare? It’s not about being the fastest. It’s about consistently getting better.

Here are three ways you can focus on incremental improvement in what you do every day.

How to Do More Meaningful Work

Does your work have meaning to you?  Do you get up each day excited about what you get to do that day?  Or are you wishing you had more meaningful work to do?

more meaningful

Just passing the time at what we do each day can be frustrating at best and deadening at worst.  But the good news is it doesn’t have to be this way.

You can live each day having meaningful work to do.  And here’s how.