“Bill Ray has been at the bank 33 years, and I’ve been here 34, and probably we would both say it’s the best partnership we’ve had.” – Gee Gee Patridge, BankPlus Chief Operations Officer, referring to The Pacific Institute – BankPlus relationship.
BankPlus® is a full service financial institution, that has total assets of more than $2.7 billion, with 57 locations in 33 Mississippi communities.
Through their intentional steps to optimize their work culture, the BankPlus organization has experienced dramatic increases in revenue and performance metrics – resulting in their most profitable quarter in bank history.
In 2015, the BankPlus senior leadership team, led by CEO Bill Ray, looked to take the organization from “good to great.” The bank was coming out of the recession, and strategically wanted to focus on returning to high performance. To the team, this meant being within the top 25% return on equity (ROE) of their peer group. BankPlus also set out to reduce their efficiency ratio, which had consistently been higher than that of their peers. With these as their main goals, the senior executive officers approached Human Resources and gave them the task of finding a company that could help them achieve this objective.
Initially, the focus was to develop the sales and production departments within the bank – to grow the bank through increased, better quality loans. The Director of Human Resources had narrowed down the search to two vendors who specialized in sales training, until they heard about The Pacific Institute®. Through a strategic consultant, BankPlus found another bank that, in partnership with The Pacific Institute, had been extremely successful in growing their organization. So, The Pacific Institute came on site for an assessment to identify target growth areas, thus beginning their business relationship.
After the senior management team went through a three-day TPI HeadCoach® training, they realized the information was so valuable, they didn’t want to limit its delivery to just the production group.
BankPlus proceeded to roll-out the Thought Patterns for High Performance® curriculum to all of its 850+ employees; from management through to the front line tellers.
In 2016, the production group (consisting of commercial lending, commercial real estate, private banking and wealth management) also began The Selling Mindset™ - a program that’s designed to develop the mindset, beliefs and skills of a sales professional. This uncovered limiting beliefs within the sales team, that were holding them back from maximized performance, including the belief that it was the bank’s responsibility to make the phone ring with leads.
As they began the process and started moving towards a new sales culture, the team felt some push-back and resistance. But, The Pacific Institute® helped guide the organization through the period of transition and began to develop new patterns of thought. The implementation process consisted of bringing employees from different areas of the bank to work with one another. By interacting with team members that they did not normally interact with, it helped to build communication and comradery across the lines of business within the bank. This strategy played a key role in bringing awareness to each team member of the role they each play in the organizational structure, resulting in effective cross-selling and increased familiarity with the bank’s products and services. Joint sales calls have become commonplace, where they were a rarity before. BankPlus customers now get to meet more than one officer with the bank, truly making them customers of the whole organization.
This constructive culture is implemented on all levels, in all facets of the business. BankPlus managers are now challenged to manage in a way that utilizes The Pacific Institute’s concepts. Each weekly meeting begins by reviewing the vision, values, and mission statement. This reinforcement has driven ownership and pride amongst the teams. An Empowerment Initiative has been created within the organization, to help empower employees with a sense of accountability and ownership around the bank’s strategic goals, as well as build the belief in the employee’s ability to execute on the desired goals.
DHA’s core values are simple yet powerful: Compassion, Integrity, Trust and Innovation – represented by the acronym CITI. Now, people talk about CITI values throughout the organization, and everyone knows what they are. The employees have created a “CITI Values Recognition Program” where a person can submit a recommendation for a team member who is exemplifying one of these values. At the end of the year, there is a large evening ceremony honoring those who went above and beyond demonstrating the values. CITI T-shirts, pins and lanyards have even been created to celebrate the core values at the heart of the organization. Edwards proudly states, “It’s been really exciting to watch. When we interview people now for internal promotions, they talk about our values. It has just sunken into the organization in a way that I just could not have imagined.”
Edwards continues to offer IIE® to her staff through internal facilitators. So far, over 900 employees have participated in the education, and there is almost always a waiting list to attend. She makes every effort to attend the end of every session, in every workshop that’s delivered. Those who have participated in IIE® continue to set up opportunities to support one another with the concepts and share their experiences. Edwards commented, “At the end of the IIE® training, almost every time, there are one or two people who say, ‘You know, we now have more tools to help our customers feel confident that they can get off welfare, get a job, and make their lives better.”
Even employee performance is addressed differently – choosing to focus on coaching vs. discipline. “We have employees who make mistakes, and in the past, they would have been disciplined for making them. We talk about mistakes being an educational learning process, and people are becoming less fearful. Now, there are times when it is necessary and appropriate to have a disciplinary action against an employee. But the first step, particularly around a mistake, should be coaching. We are embracing coaching first and believing in positive intent. Our staff comes to work with positive intentions and wanting to do well, and we remind ourselves of that.” The most significant change, however, has been within the executive team. Edwards commended the strength of her team, stating, “I have an executive team that is in lockstep with me. That is beginning to make a difference, and the goal is to now drive that down deeper into the organization.”
Edwards has a very clear vision for her department, “People who use our services don’t have a choice. We are the only option in town to receive benefits. Ever since I arrived, my mantra has been around customer service. We need to provide a great customer experience. People come to us when they’re sometime at the lowest place in their lives, and we want to treat them with dignity and respect.”
To support this vision, Edwards and her team redesigned the call center experience to make the customer comfortable, and ultimately, transition people off aid and into self-sufficiency. Customers were interviewed and surveyed to gather information about their experiences, their needs, and how they want to be served. This will allow the department to perform more journey mapping to ensure that their services are more accessible and that the customer is well taken care of. The department is now also beginning the process of tracking their customer assistance and their success at moving people to independence.
As well as focusing on the customer service aspect, Edwards hopes to bring IIE® into their official onboarding process and comments that her goal is for everyone to feel that Sacramento DHA is a great place to work. She wants her team to feel good about the organizational culture and the way they are treated. The plan is to launch another culture survey within the next few years to measure the result of the current initiatives.
Edwards is clearly passionate about her mission within the department, and ultimately wants a legacy where both customers and employees feel great about the work being done within the department. She concludes by saying, “It’s been fun. It’s been a lot of work, and it can be discouraging at times, but I am really proud of the progress that we have made, and I’m confident that we will get there.”
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