Safe Systems President Darren Bridges always has the best suggestions for professional development resources, so we decided to introduce “Darren’s Corner” so that everyone can benefit!

Featured Book:

"Bet on Talent" by Dee Ann Turner

“Bet on Talent” by Patrick Lencioni This year at NetConnect, our annual customer conference, we were lucky enough to hear from Dee Ann Turner. Dee Ann is the former Vice President or Talent and Vice President of Sustainability at Chick-Fil-A and author of Bet on Talent. While most fast food restaurants have nearly 100% turnover, she helped lead nearly 95% retention at both the corporate and franchisee level. In fact, CFA franchises boast one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry. When it comes to running a business, the most important decisions a leader makes are not about products or locations--they're about people. For the past 33 years, Dee Ann Turner has been recruiting, training, and retaining some of the best employees in the restaurant business. Now she's ready to share her secrets on how to build, sustain, and grow an organizational culture that attracts world-class talent and consistently delights customers, no matter what your industry. In Bet on Talent, Turner shows you how to
  • Create a remarkable company culture
  • Select, sustain, and steward talent
  • Nurture internal relationships
  • Create company loyalty that leads to customer loyalty
  • Instill the practice of servant leadership within your organization
  • Treat everyone with honor, dignity, and respect
You can grab a copy of the book here. We spoke with Safe Systems president Darren Bridges to get his thoughts on some of the key points Dee Ann makes in her book and how they apply to bankers.

How do you recruit for culture fit?

When Safe Systems interviews, we think about our goal of promoting from within. This means prioritizing interest and natural inclination over skill, especially with entry-level roles. One great question to ask is, “Why did you choose this career path?” With this question, we’re looking for intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation. If they say, “There will always be a need for talent in technology,” they may not be intrinsically motivated. Dee Ann writes, “Think of the difference between hiring people and selecting talent this way: We hire people for jobs. We select talent to grow our leadership bench and prepare for the future.” It’s also important to look for certain qualities and soft skills that align with company culture and the role. We ask about soft skills like patience, especially when it’s a client/customer facing role. We also look for candidates that will have good chemistry with our team. We ask about teamwork and what roles they naturally take on in a team setting (executing, coordinating, leading, etc.). If you cultivate a culture of positivity, ask them about their previous role. If they have a lot of negative things to say, that might be someone who is prone to a negative mindset and won’t be a good fit.

How can leaders nurture talent by telling the truth?

Giving candid feedback is crucial for reinforcing culture. Mincing words to try and save the recipient’s feelings can simply be confusing and unproductive, so it’s important to be direct. I prefer to open by telling them where the conversation is going so they can share their side. No one enjoys having difficult conversations, but it’s important to try not to go into the situation feeling anxious or expecting them to be angry since that will heighten their emotions, too. This is especially relevant in the current pandemic where many employees are confused and uncertain. If you find yourself having those conversations, being honest upfront is the best option. Keep your team updated on what’s happening.

What are the biggest takeaways for bankers?

Dee Ann says when you select the right people one person at a time and do it repeatedly, you strengthen culture organically over time. Hire people who will hold others accountable for maintaining your bank’s standards. If you find you’ve strayed from those values, find new ways to recommit employees to the purpose and put the customer at the center. Recognize that everyone has varying values and skills that they bring to the bank, rather than trying to make everyone the same. You don’t want a whole team where everyone is just like you. Constantly ask your team what makes them proud of their work to help them focus on what they love about their job. When interviewing, try to get candidates out of the mindset that they are here to be the perfect candidate. In reality, they should be evaluating the bank in the same way you are evaluating them. One great way to do this is to “get three questions deep,” meaning ask two follow-up questions to your main question. Anyone can give one good surface answer, but if you feel it may not be genuine, it’s time to dig deeper. Use onboarding as a time to reiterate the values of the bank to new employees. This ensures they know where they’re headed and know if they’ve veered off track.

What does servant leadership mean?

Servant leadership means putting others before yourself. A commitment to servant leadership permeates a remarkable culture. Employees need to feel like their boss cares about their growth as an individual. A leader’s job is to clear obstacles so talent has room to grow into future leaders. A servant leader recognizes the tremendous responsibility not only to lead but also to serve those they lead.
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