Could the employees at your bank recite the company values? More importantly, do they treat their customers and each other with those values?
In this episode, Maria Abbe and Jessica Stone talk about how giving respect results in a more efficient workplace.
Jessica Stone: Hi and welcome to the Purposeful Banker podcast, the podcast brought to you by PrecisionLender, where we discuss the big topics on the minds of today’s best bankers. I’m your host, Jessica Stone, Director of Client Success at PrecisionLender, and today I’m joined by Maria Abbe, our Content Manager. Thanks for joining us. If you couldn’t guess it by our episode title, our little ode to the queen of soul, today we’re talking about respect. Specifically, the impact respect plays in the workplace.
Maria Abbe: Yes, so Jess, I know you have a story here. How did we come up with this topic for today’s episode?
Jessica Stone: Sure. This might seem silly but maybe a little relatable for people. This weekend was watching TV online with my husband and if any of you watch any of those online shows through the apps or anything, you sometimes see the same TV ad over and over and over again during that ad break. So, the one that was for me this weekend over and over again a zillion times, it was called “respect anthem” and it was an ad for a car, a Hyundai Genesis. I was thinking to myself, “How silly is this? A commercial about respect to sell a car.” Every time it came on I would say to my husband, and he was like, “Okay, okay,” but the more and more I thought about it, I talked myself into it that you know what? Respect is actually a topic that really applies to everyone.
We all touch that topic with friends and family in our workplace, going out to the supermarket, so because we all experience that in our daily lives, maybe it really is a good discussion topic for today and we certainly see it come into play here at PrecisionLender.
Maria Abbe: Yeah. That’s a great point. How have you seen respect come into play in your daily workplace life?
Jessica Stone: Here at PrecisionLender, as many of you likely know and I know we’ve talked about here is we have a core set of values that are really important to us as a company and drive how we operate. In fact, one of them, to today’s topics, one of the lines says “treat everyone with fairness and respect.” Anyone who walks into our office and we have our values up on the walls and people really know that that is something that plays a part in our company and it’s not just words on the wall. It really permeates into everything we do, and an example of that is during our hiring process, we have an unorthodox process and it’s a little bit long, but it’s really important to us, that we during hiring really look for candidates through the lens of those values to make sure they’ll fit in with us here.
We have a step that we call our “coffee meeting” and I thought a quote by Albert Einstein fits to this. It says, “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” During our coffee meeting, what we look for is not just that the person we’re interviewing speaks to us, the people who could potentially offer them a job, kindly and respectfully, and in a way that you’d want to work with someone, but when you go out to grab a coffee, how do they interact with the waitress or the barista, or the person that holds the door open for them? You can see them outside of that lens of that interview bubble, and how are they just in the real world? If we see them exhibit respect and kindness and things like that, then we feel like they’re the type of person who would fit in with us here at PrecisionLender.
Maria Abbe: Yeah that’s such an important piece to look for when you’re hiring. PrecisionLender’s emphasis on respect even makes it way into our solutions. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Jessica Stone: Yeah. We’ve talked about that here a little bit that the outcome of implementing PrecisionLender as a solution is you really launch this program where management has set parameters for lenders to make deals with their borrowers, and they, at the end of crafting the implementation and tweaking all of the configurations, they really handed over to the lenders and say, “We’re giving you the freedom to craft deals for borrowers within these parameters,” and there has to be an element of respect that’s needed at an institution for management to give that freedom over to their lenders so we really say that the people that we partner with, the financial institutions that we work with, we really have to philosophically align and I think that really plays a part in it, is you have to have an element of respect throughout the organization to be able to work like that and really successfully use PrecisionLender because it does take that level of trust to give lenders that creative freedom that they maybe previously didn’t have before a solution like PrecisionLender or something similar.
Maria Abbe: Yeah. You work with our clients a lot so what about on the client side? How do you experience the theme of respect?
Jessica Stone: Sure. When working with our financial institution clients, I see respect come into play most when thinking about implementation. If you listened to last week, I talked about our implementation, I do a lot of those. I work a lot with our clients. When I think back to the most successful onboarding experiences, I think of the banks and the credit unions that really had a clear culture of respect among employees. When I come back and go, “Gosh, that was just such a great group,” it’s because they really showed respect among each other and I was tempted to say respect among peers but really, it goes beyond peers. It’s employee to employee, it’s up and down hierarchies, and that’s I think what makes it stand out so much when one of those is just so great.
There’s one I can think back to with a really great group that was a really cohesive team, extremely collaborative and they just clearly respected one another, even when within that group, there was some people that were a little bit more senior or more C level, but each person that was in that implementation group was really chosen for a reason and they’re sharing their insight and they’re really respected for their contribution within that group. Everyone among it had an important role to play and even if someone suggested something that maybe we didn’t go with, there was definitely a culture of “Great idea. I don’t think we’re going to go with this for this part,” and things like that, and when you just walk away feeling like, “Wow, they really trust each other and like each other, and respect each other’s decisions and insight,” it’s just a much more powerful group and really leads to a lot of our most successful implementations.
I can think of one other case where we had this really great group of an onboarding team but the president of the bank was not involved in that day to day of implementations so we get towards the end, he’s coming from a little bit of PL from a far, not totally involved in everything we’re doing. He pops in to hear about what’s going on and he started off a little bit blunt. “Why did you do this? Where’d you get that number? Why’d we do this?,” but then when he heard who the people were in the room that we’re making the decisions, he said, “Oh, that person, that person, that person,” he backed off. He knew those people, he respected them, he trusted their decision making, and it gave him this calm that when he heard that people that he respected in his organization were the ones making the decisions, he really became much more engaged and into what we were doing. I thought that was another neat way to see respect play in a different way within an organization.
Maria Abbe: Yeah, that level of trust and respect must make the implementation process so much easier for both sides. Have you seen the opposite of that in your travels to banks?
Jessica Stone: You know, I have. We work with great folks but there’s always that flip side and so it’s a tough case when sometimes there’s one person who brings down that level of respect across a room but it’s really understandable when there’s a lot of different personalities at play, and when I see it, again, everyone we work with is really great so it hasn’t been anything too intense but examples of the other side is when you see an onboarding group that’s come together, everybody has been chosen to be involved for a certain reason, and someone maybe has gone to, we say, “Okay, what about this decision?” We go to that person who should be that go-to person and they have the facts to back it you and they have this and they have that, and someone comes in and just steamrolls them a little bit, that, “Oh, well I don’t think it’s that.”
It’s a tough thing to see, especially on the partner side of the person outside when you know that the person who gave that answer is really coming from a place of data and thought and they just have to go, “Oh gosh, okay.” They feel a little bit deflated, so it sometimes can change the theme and feel of the room and so Maria, I know we did in thinking about this topic, we did a little bit of research on respect in the workplace. We’ve talked about really important, not only in your daily life but how you work with your peers and employees and partners and vendors, and so we came across an article from Forbes from 2012, but we think the content still rings pretty true. Do you want to share about some of the tips for earning and showing respect at work?
Maria Abbe: Some of these are a little obvious but I thought we’d share them anyway. Number one being use active listening skills, so really listen and hear what people are saying. There’s a quote that I particularly love by Stephen Covey who wrote “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.” It goes, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.” I think it’s so easy for us to get caught up in that, listening so that we can answer as opposed to truly understanding what the person is saying. Some other things that we covered were treat others with dignity and courtesy at all times, keep your commitments and never make a commitment that you can’t keep, and I think along with that, I’d also manage expectations as well. Also, communicating those expectations so that your colleagues have a good understanding of what they can expect from you when you commit to something.
Then, of course, be patient with people and it’s always good to remember that most people want to do the right thing so keeping that level of patience with them and helping them see that through, what it is they’re trying to accomplish. Of course, treat others as they would like to be treated, learn to flex your social style so that you can work better with others, and that goes along with treating others as they would want to be treated. Don’t state your opinions unless you can back them up with data, and be sure you fully understand the situation before you comment on it, and then short and sweet, but be sincere, be generous, be humble, and be confident. This one can be tough, exhibiting confidence without arrogance might be a difficult thing but it’s super important.
Then, some others that I liked from TheBalance.com. Use people’s ideas to change or improve work. Let employees know you used their idea or even better yet, encourage the person with the idea to implement the idea. Praise much more frequently than you criticize. Encourage praise and recognition from employee to employee, as well as from the supervisor. This one I think we forget to acknowledge because we get so busy in our day to day lives, but be aware of your body language, the tone of your voice, your demeanor, your expressions, in all of your interactions at work. It’s a difficult one to address because we can’t see ourselves head on, but it’s so important when trying to convey respect to others.
Then, honestly, Jess, I think all of this truly boils down to the golden rule which is treat others as you would want to be treated, and I think that if you go into each day with that as your goal, the rest will fall into place.
Jessica Stone: Yeah. I agree. Excellent. Well, thank you for sharing those, Maria. I think that’s going to do it for us today, so thanks everyone for listening. You can always find more information about today’s episode, and we’ll include some of the links to articles we talked about today at PrecisionLender.com/podcast. If you like what you’ve been hearing, make sure to subscribe to our feed in iTunes, Soundcloud, or Stitcher, and we love to get ratings and feedback on those platforms. Thanks again for listening. Until next time, this has been Jessica Stone and Maria Abbe, and this is the “Purposeful Banker” podcast.