Using Fear as a Management Tool Will Harm You Today and Tomorrow
Many branch managers are operating under the flawed logic that employees become more attentive to their work during a recession, motivated by the fear of job loss. They are wrong. Relying on fear as a management tool is a poor choice during the recession and could be a detriment to your future operations when times are more prosperous.
Unhappy, fearful employees translate to unhappy, fearful members. As an organization, you can't afford to run your team on fear. It's important to remember that the employees are your brand ambassadors. They have the most direct contact with your members. The type of brand experience your employees have with your organization will be transferred to your members. You can count on it. Fear is catching.
Keeping your employees happy and motivated should always be a top priority. Perhaps, in this recession, employee retention isn't the problem it used to be for your organization, but this issue will return when the economy heals. Here's another important thing to consider: Your staff will remember. They'll think over the past 18 months and reflect on how it could have been handled better, and look for a company that could have and would have done better. Think long-term when managing your sales team. Regardless of market conditions, companies should always strive to keep the best employees.
Coaching and team building should not be abandoned, or scaled back, during these chaotic times. If anything, these practices should be heightened in the preparation of the "new normal" that is descending. When the market recovers, consumers will not likely return to the borrow and spend mindset that existed prior to the recession. However, there is evidence that there are opportunities to increase member loyalty and market share if financial institutions return to the basics of improved service and communication and to enhancing the member experience.
Keep employees engaged and help them understand the consequences of the recession for the organization and what they can do to help members recover. Provide your team with financial information they can use in their own lives and pass along to members. Teach staff to inform members on financial management applications like budgeting, savings and reconciling statements.
Employees should be taught and consistently coached to establish a connection with members by adopting a positive attitude, making sure their words, tone and gestures are in synch with members and by asking open-ended questions. Train staff to engage members as soon as they walk through the door.
As a team leader, your staff comes to you to find challenges in their work. They look to management for an optimistic outlook of the future and an energy boost.Coaching influences their work attitude and performance. Stay on top of your team's daily struggles and achievements. Be a sounding board. Be active in your advice and training.
Coach employees that their job, and the credit union's mission, is always about achieving more and serving members better. Otherwise, members will pick up on the fear and unease floating through the branch, which will result in the loss of confidence in the financial institution-a loss you cannot afford.
Rebecca Doepke is the director of culture at NewGround. She can be reached at 314-440-8420 or firstname.lastname@example.org