“Getting Our Happy Back” – Motivating the Team

“Getting Our Happy Back” – Motivating the Team

Team motivation! An engaged team will significantly improve any company’s bottom line. The primary responsibility of executive management is to engage the team in the business of growth and profit. This article will examine recent studies on workplace motivation and how they can be implemented on today’s heavily regulated banking environment.

Highly motivated teams outperform their peers at all levels. Gallup conducted a comparative study in 2014, concluding that companies with highly engaged teams outperformed their peers in the following areas:

  • 147% higher earnings per share
  • 41% fewer quality defects
  • 48% fewer safety incidents
  • 65% less turnover (low-turnover organizations)
  • 37% less absenteeism

These facts alone indicate a fiduciary responsibility to get a handle on the team engagement level.

Motivating and demotivating factors must be understood. Columbia Business School, one of the premier business think-tanks worldwide, has conducted numerous published studies on team engagement in the workplace. Their studies indicate key motivators as:

  • Verifiable Truth
  • Team Education
  • Control
  • Intrinsic value
  • Praise and recognition
  • Performance-based rewards
  • Loyalty
  • Good communication practices

Demotivating factors include:

  • Coercion
  • Public reprimand
  • Punitive practices
  • Low pay scale
  • Poor communication

Looking at the facts presented by Columbia Business School studies gives us indicators on where to start “Getting Our Happy Back” in each of our organizations. Eliminating the negative factors to motivation will help create a positive work environment.

Coercion and public reprimand as a practice must be eliminated at all levels. This behavior will cause a cancerous trickle-down effect throughout the organization. Members of the team that use these practices should be identified and addressed in writing if needed.

The banking industry has undergone significant changes over the previous five years. As an industry, the path forward offers opportunity for growth. Bank executives must continuously look for opportunities in increasingly creative ways. Helen Keller once said, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”

Punitive practices are often subtlety imbedded in most organizations. The heavy burden of federal regulations has bank executives understandably reeling. How these issues are addressed will pave the way for the future of the company.

Management must change the process of addressing regulatory issues in the industry and inside banks. One item that can be quickly address is how success is measured. Most regulatory measurement systems are gauged based on failure. This can be easily adjusted to measure success. For example, a 4% loan portfolio exception rate will produce less favorable results than reporting a 96% loan portfolio accuracy rate. Studies have proven people will run toward the positive number and avoid the negative.

Low pay scale can be addressed in multiple ways. Industry leaders must acknowledge the living wage and begin to work toward moving our entry level workforce to the living wage.

Louisiana Living Wage Statistics: (Range based variances in market.)

Adult:                              $10.03 – $11.04 per hour

Adult w/2 children:          $22.68 – $24.68 per hour

2 Adults w/2 children:      $22.18 – $24.06 per hour

The expense of taking this action could be financially daunting. Fiduciary responsibility requires a thoughtful approach. There are two immediately possible approaches. As employee turnover occurs, first identify opportunities to consolidate positions and responsibilities and reward high performing employees with additional responsibilities and raises. Second, implement a monthly or quarterly performance bonus plan allowing greater pay for those members of the team that exceed tracked performance expectations.

Poor communication is an issue all organizations must address. The steps to improving communication have been a dealt with in a previous article. Effective communication is the lynch pin to building a strong culture based in trust.

As the demotivating factors are addressed, positive motivating actions must be instituted. Team education, control, and intrinsic value are addressed from here on.

Effective training has been proven to increase productivity by 20% or more while reducing employee turnover by the same rate. The key is having a training plan/budget and a manager responsible for implementing it.

Here are some items to consider:

  • Access to banking and financial publications
  • Training plans by position
  • Class room training
  • Webinars
  • Banking association training
  • Partnering with other organizations to share the cost of training

Training will prove to be a positive return on investment.

Control, or the ability to make decisions close to the customer, has been seriously limited in the current heavily regulated environment. Moving authority close to the customer will give the team a positive sense of control and flexibility when helping their customers.

Establishing a simplified thought process will help decide what requires greater control.

  • If there is a significant regulatory risk, centralize and control.
  • If there is limited or no regulatory risk, decentralize authority close to the customer.
  • If there is an increased need for fast decisions, decentralize authority close to the customer.

Excessive use of controls will limit your ability to gain business and discourage your team from pursuing new business.

Intrinsic value has traditionally been thought to lie at the heart of ethics. Philosophers use a number of terms to describe such values. Something’s intrinsic value is the value that is has “in itself,” “for its own sake,” or “in its own right.” The majority of your team wants to comprehend how they can contribute to the greater good of society and the company. Helping the team understand their value is much more than giving them a financial reward. They need to understand the impact of their position on the success of the company and their community.

Effective techniques include:

  • A Simple two line mission statement
  • Published core values
  • Define the financial impact of the bank on the community
  • Create an internal spotlight on business and consumer customers and the positive impact the bank has had in their lives.
  • Teach the team to express how they of benefit the community

Defining the impact employees have on the greater good can and will change how the team looks at their work life.

The fact remains highly engaged teams will significantly improve the profit and growth of every company. The monetary and inherent rewards will far outweigh the effort required. Build and execute a plan of action. As world renowned motivator Zig Ziglar has stated, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.”

If you would like to read our three previous posts on culture building your can follow these links: What is the “Culture Building” Talk All About?, Building a Strong Company Culture and Identifying, Defining Successful Cultural Behavior, Culture Building: The Middle Manager Perspective and The Path to Success: Communicating the Culture.



Author: Jay Toups

Catholic entrepreneur, father, grandfather, speaker, blogger and writer from Louisiana. Author of "The Storm: A Time of Mercy, Choices and Hope.", "The Cajun Storm: God's Servant First." and "In Search of Our Savior"