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In each of my presentations to financial institutions, I try to get some feeling and opinions from those attending on what is wrong, or what needs to be fixed, in the banking industry. Interestingly, there seems to be a common problem in the platform area of many institutions.

The scenario is often this: An office is running smoothly, headed by a popular and charismatic manager, with all systems in place and working properly, business increasing steadily, customers satisfied and happy, and the atmosphere of the office is totally upbeat. Then it might happen that the manager, because of the outstanding performance of the office and its personnel, is promoted, and moves out.

The office suddenly becomes a problem, developing slip-shod practices, losing customers and business, and no longer functioning as an asset to the financial institution.

It is expressed in different ways-"Things just aren't the same anymore." "The new manager tries, but just can't hack it." "Going to work used to be fun, but now I dread it."

Sometimes when the "captain" of the ship leaves, the driving force behind the whole office disappears. The team that was backing up the successful manager was probably loyal and supportive. But when left behind after the manager was promoted, they felt a sense of resentment and betrayal. Without the leader they depended on, they literally "fell apart," and the group remaining found its real level of quality-below the level where they had been performing.

This type of problem can be fixed, over a period of time, by bringing the manager back temporarily, to train and coach his/her replacement-making it very clear that the authority is being transferred to the successor. Eventually a composite and compromised position will be attained, and the staff will once again operate at a super-productive level as before. But it takes time and concentrated work to achieve this position.

The manager who has trained his/her "replacement" over a period of time before promotion is much better off by not having created the problem in the first place.

Very often we make the mistake in this industry of promoting people to managerial positions with no training in supervision and management. Such a practice is unfair to both manager and staff. There are courses available in these subjects written for the banking industry, which is unique among industries. We should take advantage of them. Imagine a financial institution where all managers had expertise in motivating, goal setting and delegating! There would be no holding them back! We need that now more than ever.

Copyright © 1990 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 1, No. 11, 11/90

First published on 11/01/1990

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