Each branch is different in various respects, but conversations with hundreds of banks and branch managers suggest to me that there is a core of activities that the successful branch manager does. These core activities are the fundamentals, and what differentiates the successful branch manager from other branch managers is that they do the fundamentals very well. In many cases, subconsciously, they become part of the automatic behavior of the successful manager. For example, the successful branch manager thinks about any business issue from the customers' viewpoint. It's automatic, since the manager knows that the customers provide the reason for being in the business.
The fact that they are automatic explains in part why these managers are successful. In short, they don't forget to do the essentials in order to ensure their success. With any complex activity it is very easy to forget something, but it is the sum total of all activities that synergistically forms success.
What are these essential activities? Well, they cluster around five principles. In fact, they are the Five Steps to Successfully Manage a Branch.
STEP 1 WHAT IS THE JOB TO BE DONE?
As obvious as this question might appear, the successful branch manager usually spends a large amount of time gathering information, getting impressions, and acquiring intuitions that are essential to starting him/her on the road to successful branch management. In most cases, it is good listening and observing. Listen carefully to what is said, not said, and how it is communicated. Look at the assorted behavior and activities that form the basis for the business of a branch.
Lets talk about a specific example. One bank I know has tradi tionally been very concerned with reducing expenses. The tellers have had cost reduction hammered into them to the extent that they are fearful for their jobs if they throw away a paper clip, much less than if they spend more than the allotted time on a transaction. Their abrupt, nervous behavior impacts the customer, and he or she leaves the bank feeling they were
pushed out the door. Does the customer want to come back? Would you?
The branch manager that turned this situation around never had the problem defined, as I did for you. But he never would have been successf u 1 wi thout firs t understanding what was driving the behavior of the staff and customers.
Since branch banking is a service activity, opinions, attitudes and beliefs (OABs) — to a large degree — shape the behavior of all the participants in the business and influence its subsequent success or failure. Understanding written and unwritten OAB's and how they are formed gives the manager insight into agreeing with them or changing them.
OABs normally relate to customers, staff, expenses, sales, service, control, and rewards. In our case study, it was expenses, but it could have been a focus on service, which it eventually became. Write the OABs that you believe would explain the behavior of your branch.
The participants in the banking business include everyone that can influence the branch. The influential people include the branch staff and its customers, the community, head office people, and the support staff. Make a list in Figure 1 of those people in your bank with whom you want to speak and get their perspective on "what is the job to be done?"