Carefully select and train those employees who will lead and manage your bank

Rx for organizational health

Carefully select and train those employees who will lead and manage your bank

By Vicki Kraai


Congratulations, you have been promoted to a manager/supervisor! Now what?

Organizational health starts with hiring people who are the right fit for the job. This starts with carefully selecting employees to lead the teams who run your bank. Let’s face it, managing people is not for everyone, but it’s such an important role in creating the culture you want and ensuring your teams are engaged and ready to fulfil the mission and core values of your organization.

This role should not be taken lightly. Putting the wrong person in a leadership role can have a negative impact on your entire organization and lead to higher turnover and disengaged team members.

I had a friend offer me some unsolicited advice recently when I had to make a tough call on a situation at my daughter’s school and was dreading what other parents would say about my decision. This mom said to me, “Good for you! You are the parent, and parenting is not for the weak!” She made me smile that day and her response is something I will never forget. She reminded me that my actions to step in and make a tough decision were warranted. Sometimes this is hard to do with parenting as well as with leading and managing people. Acting on and handling tough decisions is a part of a supervisor’s job, much like it is of a parent.

Managing and leading a team can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever go through in your career. But sometimes you hit a bump in the road where people don’t always act and respond as we would like them to. This is a defining moment for a leader of the team, whether they are a new or seasoned leader. Make sure to equip those managers with the tools they need for handling the tough stuff before they need them.

Equip them with tools

Not only do we need to hire leaders who are the right fit, but we also need to surround them with the right coaches, mentors and training support to help pave the road for success. When we launch a new software system or new asset/liability model, our first priority is training employees so that they can learn how to navigate and properly perform the functions of the new system—and we make a significant investment to make that happen.

Why wouldn’t we look at leading and managing in the same way? What happens when we promote someone to a supervisor or management position and we don’t give them the tools they need to succeed at being a successful leader within our organization? Many times, they fail.


Here are some best practices to help develop managers and supervisors to build great teams within the bank.

Attending a supervisory training is not always a “one-and-done” item to check off a list. Learning the skills and experiencing the world of leading and managing is a process. Training can be more effective when the supervisor has the opportunity to engage with others in the same role, especially in relating to — and handling — the tough stuff, and this likely will be done through an ongoing training system.

Leaders should not put themselves on a pedestal within the organization. Coaches and mentors are much more successful in developing people rather than by being a boss. There is a difference. Most importantly, coaches and mentors come across as being humble, encouraging and real, making them very effective as leaders.

Successful leaders in the bank do a good job of identifying their “Directors of Fun” within the workplace. It’s the little things done on a daily basis that can make a difference to create a culture that fuels and engages the team. Identify the people who can take this to the next level in your bank. The budget can be very small and the benefits and rewards are very rich.

You have a significant responsibility to help each of your team members maximize their potential. Developing people is the single most important activity managers are accountable for. To do this, managers need to turn their focus from their own personal aspirations to ensuring the development of the people they manage. This will look vastly different for individual team members — successful leaders get this.

Are your managers and supervisors trained to hire for the right fit? The interview is the place where candidates wear their “Sunday best,” so how do you identify who are the best fit for your team? Asking the right questions is only a portion of the equation. The key is to listen when the candidates respond with their answers. This can tell you a great deal as to whether the candidate is a team player and much more.

In banks today, there is a great deal of focus on creating the best customer experience. Have you examined your onboarding experiences in the same way as handling your customers? Instead of focusing on doing exit interviews with people who are leaving the organization, which is still an important step, think about doing a “60-days-on-the-job” interview. Ask about the bank’s onboarding process and what could be improved upon with the experience or first impression of working within the organization. Be open to accepting constructive feedback. Then, most importantly, follow-up on those ideas.

Whether you are new to managing people or have been doing it for some time, there is always an opportunity to learn and grow and get some refreshing tools and perspective to take back to your workplace for motivation. Remember, managing people is not for the weak. Sometimes you need to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who are all in the same role to share challenges and rewarding experiences.

Successful leaders realize the importance of ongoing training to be effective at leading teams and coaching people to excel on the job.

Vicki Kraai has 25-plus years of community bank experience, beginning as a teller and eventually becoming CEO. She is one of the instructors at TBA’s Bank Supervisor School, which will be held Sept. 18-20 in Dallas. The school will give you some great new tools to handle conflict resolution, effective performance reviews and best practices in all facets of leading and managing people.