“The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier

Just had the pleasure of finishing this book by Michael Bungay Stanier. As someone obsessed with the idea of continuing to develop a better coaching process for managers to use I was blown away by Michael’s work!

His concise, well thought out, easy to follow process combines the structure needed to keep your coaching on track, with the real world perspective so you can actually use the program.

You will find yourself identifying what your issues are and immediately understand how to work on them. Michael takes the reader through step-by-step instructions that can apply to a coach in any industry.

Would love to hear feedback on the book.



Great Read by Nick Holland


Nick Holland explains why this is a classic example of banks rushing to get to market before sorting out all the details. What happens in the next 12 months will largely shape P to P transfers for the next five years. Regional Banks and Community Banks are waiting to see how B of A and Wells handle this and the regulators response before diving in completely. Once the path is cleared and established others will follow quickly. http://www.nextgenerationbanking.wordpress.com

What to do with those huge branches?

A common problem for banks across the country, regardless of footprint and deposit size is what to do with banks built for a time of booming branch traffic. Almost every bank has multiple branches that are physically located in a desirable spot in town but are just too big for the traffic today. When you walk into these branches you immediately know because there are usually 15 teller stations, two of which are in use. What should banks do with these locations? Think outside the box.

In many cases where the bank leases the property and the landlord does not have an interest in allowing outside the box thinking or a restructuring of the premises closing, or relocating the branch may be the only options. What I have noticed is executives are far too quick to make this the only option.

The solution lies in creating another revenue stream, as well as a way to create foot traffic inside the building. Bank’s need to be more willing to sublet space within their building to places like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks.

Currently we see this business model work in reverse. In-store branches, where banks have taken up shop inside grocery stores are common across the country. They have proved to be cost effective and very profitable, even in the slowest grocery stores. Capital One is attempting to use this model with their “Branch Cafés” but the problem with their model is why is a customer going to choose coffee and a muffin from a bank instead of a Starbucks?

Citizens Bank tried the model a few years back, but again in reverse. The bank installed branches inside Dunkin Donuts. The program didn’t work very well and was abandoned. The branches were too small, lacked a drive thru, and Citizens was paying Dunkin Donuts for the privilege of using the space.

What I am proposing is the exact opposite. Take the space not being used, and build out a location for the retailer who wants a spot. The possibilities are endless. Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Subway, local delis, coffee shops, ice cream stores, etc. Who rents the space is far less important than the fact that the space gets rented. The company coming in would pay for the renovations and the construction of what they need.

The bank then retains that prime piece of real estate they want, customers are not disturbed and a new revenue stream of rent is added. As well as a great opportunity to gain foot traffic inside the building which presents more sales opportunities.

It’s time to think outside the box. Banks have been putting branches and ATM’s inside every store, venue, and gas station in America. It’s time to reverse the thinking and bring retail into our homes!

The Problem with Your Coaching Process

Coaching processes are a great way to help build skill among those colleagues with direct reports. Yet often times I see the programs either not taking hold in a bank or simply not being used. This begs the question why? Why are some of your best people not following the program you have spent so much time, money and energy on crafting for them. The answer lies in how your bank responds to these questions.

Do you have a formal coaching process?

Does that process account for how to respond when someone executes to the desired level?

Wait, wait, wait! Before you respond of course it does, we recognize our people all the time for the great job they do! Carefully read and consider the question. Does the formal coaching process you have laid out for your managers have a built in process for when someone executes at the desired level?

The answer is almost always no. Almost without fail the coaching process you have in place focuses primarily on how to give feedback in a constructive way, explaining to the colleague what he did wrong or could do better. This process is on laminates, flashcards, in binders, on posters, we practice, role-played, coach and managed to it. But what if the colleague does the activity great….then what??

Here is the breakdown. Here is why your coaching strategy is not taking hold. Here is why even though you claim it’s coaching not criticism people still feel like its criticism. If your coaches do not feel empowered to scream “that was great” high five a colleague and say “do that 20 more times today just like that”…. Your coaching program has a massive hole in it.

The typical coaching program used in banking is as follows. Manager tells employee what we are going to talk about, asks employee for thoughts, manager says something positive, then immediately tells her what she could do different or better. Then we discuss or practice, agree and move on.

In this culture even excellence is met with managers feeling it is mandatory to point out something that was wrong! This is not how it works in the rest of the world. This is not how top tier sports teams coach! Walk around a professional sports team and you will hear coaches saying things like “yes!” “Perfect” “that’s exactly how I want you to do it” “do it like that and you can’t be stopped.” These phrases are said as equally as the instruction, nit picking, and teaching phrases.

Think about how ridiculous it would sound to have the head coach of an NFL team after a play is run to perfection and results in a touchdown say “Nice job guys, exactly how we drew it up, but next time we could probably do it a little quicker”….. You can’t, because it would be ridiculous!!!

All great coaching programs (and there are many) include a response for when a colleague meets the standard set for them. This is the most critical part of the process. If you never acknowledge someone flawlessly executing, he will stop trying to execute flawlessly. It’s truly that simple.

If you are reading this and it sounds like your bank the good news is this is an easy fix. Draft out a specific way you want your managers to acknowledge great execution. Include on the spot acknowledgement, instruction to do it again just like that, and next level recognition to another superior. Implement this into your existing coaching process and engagement at all levels around coaching and being coached will grow exponentially.

Oh and one more thing, if you are reading this and you lack the power to change the coaching process for the entire company, that’s fine. Just don’t let that be an excuse why you don’t write out your own great execution acknowledgement processes and put it into practice with your team starting tomorrow!

Why Your Specialization Strategy Doesn’t Work

Every business today, but especially banking is focused on the idea that the key to success is to provide more specialists. That is to say more people who are experts in some area of the business who can provide a higher level of service for the customer which in turn generates into more sales. So why isn’t it working? Why are banks such as Santander who are devoting incredible resources to making this happen finding that sales are not improving, and even worse, neither is customer experience.

It’s simple really, what the company is creating is not specialists. It is positions with an added amount of “training” that provides them with basic knowledge to sound slightly more knowledgeable in one area. Second, giving someone training on business banking, lending, or investments does not make them a specialist. Just because I go to Tom Brady’s quarterback camp doesn’t make me an NFL quarterback.

Becoming a specialist takes hard work, practice, dedication and above all else TIME!! It’s the time piece that banks haven’t seemed to figure out. Take Santander for example, retail colleagues are required to practice using a computer system 30 minutes per day. They have over 10 modules to pick from and rarely do the same one more than one time per day, or for longer than one week. So this begs the question….if a colleague is not being given adequate time for practice, and not having the practice focused on one area until he becomes an expert on that skill, behavior or topic is it any surprise the specialization movement is not working?

The specialization model can and should work in banking as it does in other forms of business and sports. Think about it the customer service rep at Apple doesn’t moonlight at night writing code for the company. Offensive Lineman in the NFL don’t occasionally swing out and play defensive back for a few snaps. That would be ridiculous, so why do we ask our frontline colleagues in business to do it? The notion that the day of the universal colleague who could complete all tasks fairly well and swing from spot to spot has passed is correct in my assumption. Branch foot traffic does not warrant it and it does not drive revenue.

So how can a company make the specialization model work?

  1. Create truly, defined specialists. A specialist working in a branch should not spend 20% of her time her specialty and 80% on everything else. She should spend 80% of her time on her specialty and 20% on everything else. The same for every other area that someone is made a specialist.
  2. Training – train on one thing, one thing, until a level of proficiency is reached. Train tellers on how to greet customers. Then have him repeat that training again and again and again until he is an expert. Stay on outbound calling training until an outbound calling machine is created. Stop jumping from training to training to training. College semesters are 4 months long! 2 to 3 times a week for 4 months…. Banking trains in 90 min workshops. Stop the insanity!!!
  3. Specialize in everything!! Don’t stop with investments and business banking. Who is the safe deposit box specialist? Who is the fraud specialist? Who is the student checking specialist?
    1. One person can be a specialist in more than one area as long as it fits the position. The offensive lineman should not play defensive back, but he should pass block and run block. A banker should not be on the teller line, but they can be a specialist in investments, student checking, and mortgages.
    2. Take the position, define what someone in the position could be asked to do, then create two or three areas for each colleague to specialize in.

Specialization is the future of banking, it is the present in almost every other industry in the world, and we are just catching up. But if we want to catch up and catch up quickly we have to stop creating specialists in name only, or specialists in one category only and instead provide the dedicated training and practice needed for someone in each branch to be a true expert on what the customer needs.

By: D. Edward