Does Your Culture Empower Millennials to Care?

Not long ago, we examined the value and importance of a healthy bank culture.  In it, we shared the HORNE Wise Firm model, which is based on the belief that a strong foundation is built on the combination of ‘we’ and ‘service’ – a cultural belief in working together to make a difference. We also shared some powerful statistics that indicate per-employee profit increases from $7,802 to $27,401 in organizations with a shared culture based on vision, mission, and values. 

Bottom line (literally and figuratively) – crafting and nurturing a culture that impacts every corner of your bank is essential to its sustainable growth and success. That effort starts with people. Increasingly, those people are Millennials and they are seeking an opportunity to engage and exercise a voice in how the organization works.

A recent statement from Dave Martin, an executive vice president and chief development officer at Financial Supermarkets Inc., drives home the idea that empowering people will drive success for banks. “Banking today is a commoditized industry. Technology and price are not going to effectively differentiate us in the future. Our employees will. That's why hiring smart and engaging people is paramount — but giving them the freedom to demonstrate those traits is just as important.”

This statement is proving true, particularly as community banks compete against large national and global banks for valuable Millennial customers. The largest and most diverse demographic in the U.S., this demographic expresses wide distrust of the largest banks, largely because they are failing to differentiate their organization by building personal connections with customers. Many Millennials have stated that they desire personal relationships and financial guidance from a banking partner whom they can trust long into the future. Authenticity and personalized attention trumps access and efficiency from (increasingly commoditized) digital banking technology. 

If the key to success for banks starts with people, the importance of building an empowerment culture can’t be overstated. The good news is that the Millennial generation – those best positioned to empathize and earn the trust of this valuable customer constituency – is flooding the workforce. They are preparing to step into the positions being vacated with increasing speed by retiring Baby Boomers. The key is to nurture a culture in which they are truly equipped and empowered to be resourceful.

As we’ve explored in a few articles about millennial and gender issues, the banking industry (along with many others) has a ‘prove it’ issue – meaning that while more and more organizations say they are committed to give a voice to everyone across the organization, there’s pervasive distrust of the truth in that promise. A joint study released this week by McKinsey and LeanIn.Org confirms that among the growing ranks of well-educated executive women, less than half express confidence in the actual potential of earning a senior position with their employer. 

If your bank is genuinely committed to creating differentiation through an empathetic, engaging team, it’s imperative to build and reinforce a genuine empowerment culture. We and service – working together to connect with and care for your most valuable customers starts with giving your people the ability to connect with and care for those customers. 

How are you living out your culture? Are your people empowered to work together to strengthen the organization from the inside out?


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Topics: Millennials, Culture, Women Leadership

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