Jeff For Banks

For Banks, Self Assessments Are Hard

By: Jeffrey P. Marsico

Self assessments are hard, period. Not just in banks. But since this is a banking blog, let’s focus there.

Strategic plans should include a fact-based self assessment. Some call it a situation analysis, others an environmental scan. They usually include a SWOT, which some people dislike but I find the vitriol around a SWOT to be mostly related to them not being honest or laundry lists of things the management team plan on doing nothing about.

Strength: The Management Team. Which for some might be true. Is it supported by low turnover rates of top performing employees, deeper relationships with customers, superior financial performance?

I recognize that everything can’t have a SMART goal (specific, measurable, aggressive yet achievable, relevant, and time-based). But if you are going to say your “culture” is a strength, I’m going to ask why, and what does that get you.

So should you.

Culture is something that I recently focused on during a couple speeches (virtual, of course) on creating alignment between your culture and strategy. Because culture is the environment you create that promotes or inhibits execution. Do you have a culture of innovation, empowerment, and positive accountability?

Most financial institutions would like to have such a culture. Because that is the environment that can lead to rank-and-file employees that recognize a need, be it a product or service, among your most profitable customer cohorts, and makes a business case for it (innovation and empowerment). That environment can lead to a project team with diverse functional expertise that is tasked with implementation, and not in six to twelve months (positive accountability).

In my talk about linking strategy and culture, I finished with the following “What Now”:

1.  Adopt a clear strategy that maps where you are to where you want to be.

Imagine that.

2.  Articulate the culture you want, and perform an honest assessment of the one you have.

No hubris please.

3. Identify the initiatives you must take to align strategy, culture, and accountabilities.

Positive accountabilities whenever possible to maximize the performance of those under your charge. See my post on this here.

If you build the culture you want, you will likely perform a fact-based self-assessment with the ability to capitalize on your bank’s strengths and fix or avoid the weaknesses.

~ Jeff