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.

What makes a Google team successful?

The Five Key Attributes of a Google Team

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?

Google Team

From the Google blog, here are the five key attributes of a Google team.

How Will You Change You in 2020?

You Will Be the Same Person in Ten Years — Unless You Change Three Things

As you think through what you want to do differently in the new year, it’s important to think through how you will change you in 2020. You can’t change your circumstances until you change yourself.

Change You

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. Do not do that to yourself. If you want to have different results, you must change you first.

You will be the same person in ten years that you are right now—unless you change these three things.

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.

How Much Do You Validate Your Team?

Don’t Just Reward After the Fact—Appreciate Your Team Before They Act

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.

Validate

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.

How Should Diversity Factor into Hiring Your Team?

Three Things to Look for in Selecting the Right Team

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

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.

What Should Be the Purpose of Business?

What’s at the Core of Your Business?

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.

Purpose

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.

A Five-Step Process to Build Morale in Your Company

How You as a Leader Can Create a Team Culture

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.

Build Morale

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.

A New Way to Look at Difficult Employees

What Do You Do With Your Problem Employees?

How do you look at the difficult employees on your team? Could it be that you are looking at them the wrong way?

difficult employees

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.

How to Make Your Work More Meaningful

Find Purpose in the Work You Do Every Day

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?

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.