Our people know more than we think they know and are less informed than we think they are.
Rhonnda, resource manager for the Port of Portland Mentor Protégé Program, told Session 3 of the Leadership Development Lab:
"In 1993, I was a department manager of a department of about 12 staff that performed back office operations functions for all the 350 branches of our banks in Oregon, Washington, Northern California and Nevada. The mid- 1990's was a time of mergers and acquisitions for the banking industry. If your bank was not acquiring other banks, it was probably being gobbled up by another bank. One key to not being an acquisition target was bank efficiency, and one measure of efficiency was the amount each institution spent out of every dollar earned to earn that dollar. In other words, operating expense as a percent of gross revenue received.
"We had been operating in a range that made us vulnerable to takeover. Top performing banks had efficiency ratios in the very low 60s and 50s. Our CEO set our target efficiency ratio at 59% and launched an initiative dubbed 'Focus 59%.' Rather than looking to senior management to determine how to increase efficiency in the operating departments, he challenged department managers and their staffs to come up with one or more recommendations for increasing operating efficiency in their departments. I got my staff together to discuss our ideas for how we could increase the efficiency of the functions we performed. We developed the recommendation that we would automate and consolidate our support function not only for Oregon and Southwest Washington, but also for all of Washington, California and Nevada. In addition, we recommended that our department be merged with another department that performed similar back office operations support. The risk in carrying this plan forward was that it eliminated my job! Nevertheless, we documented the recommendation and submitted it to senior management. Our recommendation was submitted was accepted and we were given
the go ahead to move toward implementation.
"As I was preparing myself for the journey of looking for a new job, I was invited into my boss' office. He presented me with two options; one was a nice severance package and the other was a new job within the bank. I enthusiastically accepted the new position. This new job ended up being one of the most challenging and exciting work experiences of my entire career to that point and helped in many ways to prepare me for future challenges.
"The lesson I learned from this experience is that when I lead from high ideals and do what is right for my employer, I am also doing what is right for me.
"The action I call you to take is when faced with a decision, lead from high ideals, do what is right even though at first it looks like you may be harmed.
"The benefit you will gain is earned self-respect that no one can take from you and new opportunities to grow in stature both personally as well as professionally."
This workshop provides participants with renewed insight into the opportunity and responsibility leaders have to bring out the best so that results exceed high expectations. Your team discovers how they either inspire and motivate, or, discourage and inhibit the performance of others. This workshop is a great reminder that policies and procedures are only meaningful when consistently implemented with an eye toward empowering and maximizing the performance of each individual and the team.