I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the SourceMedia Retail Banking conference last week. It was a great event and even worth the trip to Orlando during spring break.
As a general rule there is no more a depressing place to be in while alone, surrounded by people in short pants and mouse ears, laughing with their families.
The agenda was filled with some very bright folks sharing their organizations’ current strategies.
I reflected several times on comments I heard a while back from a non-banker attending his first banking conference. He was amazed that leaders in any industry would get up on stage and share what they were doing and even planning in front of competitors.
He laughed, “And then they open it up to Q&A…. just in case there’s something they missed.”
Sitting there this time around, I found myself thinking that at least some of the reasons these folks share as much as they do is that while the right strategies are critical, they alone are not the difference between success and failure. And frankly, strategies can be pretty easy to decipher without a Q&A with a senior manager.
You can simply watch what a company is doing, what it’s advertising, who it’s hiring, etc. Heck, a visit to a branch or ATM can tell you a lot.
I’ve also joked with overly protective-of-their-secrets bankers that all I have to do is hire away one of their ambitious managers or frontline folks to learn pretty much everything about their operation.
And it was no big surprise that everyone – from megabank to small operation – is striving to remain relevant to an evolving bank customer. Banks are still branching… but more judiciously.
Reformatting of existing branches is widespread.
Total FTE’s in branches are coming down, “universal bankers” are absolutely the growing norm, and higher-productivity-per-employee is the battle cry.
The “future bank” each of us chooses to build will vary. Some will actually add (likely smaller) branches and some will reduce total footprint. Right-sizing will require different moves by different folks.
In the end, it’s how committed a team is to executing its own business’s specific strategies to remain relevant and valued in customers’ lives that will matter most.
And frankly, it will still come down to who is out there out-hustling the competition.
Will that be your team this week?
While waiting for a meeting to begin recently, a friend and I teased each other about the other guy’s “first-world” problems.
They’re things that most folks around the world would look at and think, “Really? Your life is good enough that this is considered a problem in you world?”
One of my favorites has always been people who complain about how much email they receive. Whenever friends complain about that in front of me, I tease, “Yeah… I miss the days of fax machines and interoffice mail carts. Pagers were awesome, too.”
When they return sarcastic fire, I like to point out that our ancestors would feel really sorry for us bearing that burden. I mean, hey, they didn’t have indoor plumbing or air-conditioning, but they also didn’t have to put up with all of the cc’ed email we get either. So, yeah, that seems about even.
An acquaintance recently complained about the email, voicemail, and tasks she had to catch up on after having taken a few days off.
I suggested, “Wouldn’t you have been crushed if nobody had even noticed you were gone? I’d worry when no one seems to need you for anything. I’m just saying.”
There is a related point I frequently make to manager groups that tends to generate smiles and head nods. I suggest that if they made a list of the things giving them grief in their jobs right now, most are problems they once dreamed about having.
In other words, most of them busted their tails to get to a place in which they get to deal with the problems they now have. Management comes with…well, management responsibilities.
Leaders have to lead, and authority comes with a little stress.
Working your way into a position in which you get to make larger and more important sales pitches is an accomplishment that also signs you up for more disheartening rejections on occasions, as well.
Bigger jobs usually require longer hours. And the higher you climb the ladder, the more folks there are out there critiquing your decisions and actions.
As much as I enjoy satirizing some of our sillier “first-world-problems” for humor’s sake, there are actual business implications as well.
Becoming unduly annoyed by trivial issues is actually pretty common. Learning to laugh at ourselves when we do so is a healthy way of keeping proper perspective and our mental energy focused on more worthwhile issues.
How are you seeing your world today?