Jeff Judy

Jeff's Thoughts - December 7 , 2011

Invest in Your Talent Strategy

My guest columnist for this issue is John Marston, whom I've known for many years. John not only has a solid background in the banking business, he has extensive experience in the realm of recruiting and matching the appropriate talent to specific positions and functions. More about John below.

Nineteenth century industrialist Andrew Carnegie was known to have selectively hired and promoted employees who shared his values and management style. With the help of those he mindfully employed, Carnegie was able to build his unparalleled business empire.

One hundred years later, today's industry leading companies frequently apply those same winning techniques. So what can your bank do to consistently ensure good hires and make effective promotions? Invest in a talent strategy.

Step 1: Identify what makes your high performing employees effective within your bank. Start with what works. Establish a baseline for personality traits that have been instrumental in your bank's success. Then--instead of hiring is based on intuition, gut feeling, references, interviews and other conventional methods alone--invest in quantifying what that perfect personality fit actually looks like. Many of the most successful banks have found that there are reliable and proven assessment tools that can greatly increase the understanding of what common traits your high performers possess.

Step 2: Identify the gaps - now and in the future as your highest performers move up. Take the time now to evaluate your current employees and how their skills, talents, and personality traits fit your current situation. Once you have a baseline for what your best employees look like, evaluate the rest of your employees against that baseline and make the necessary adjustments. Adjustments may include training, coaching, employee development, reorganization, and even termination.

Step 3: Create a comprehensive succession plan. After an honest present-state assessment, the real opportunity lies in comparing your current team with your bank's strategic plan. Be sure you have a plan in place to develop current employees, and identify very specific future staffing needs so that your bank is prepared to achieve its goals. Stay ahead of the game by always thinking about your needs three years from today and keep your staff one step ahead to ensure that you always have the skill sets you need to help you consistently meet your goals.

Step 4: Hire ahead of the curve. Your bank is going places. It takes time to hire well, so stay focused on recruiting to fill the future gaps you've identified in your succession plan. Be prepared to effectively stay on top of staff turnover and changing opportunities. Think strategically, and proactively identify and attract the types of candidates you'll need. Consider using proven assessment tools to match prospective employees to your established baseline.

Step 5: Regularly re-evaluate. Use the steps outlined above to create a basic talent strategy that supports your strategic plan, but don't stop there. Review and update your plan frequently. Economic conditions, unexpected turnover, and opportunity hires are just a few of the indicators that it's time to update your approach.

Industry leading banks are using Carnegie's time-tested concepts to compete with you. Do your homework, do some careful planning, and beef up your own talent strategy. Don't be afraid to look to outside help to get you started or to get you back on track. Do what it takes to be a leader.

About John Marston

John Marston has worked in the banking and finance industry for more than 15 years; he has worked for small privately-owned companies and large international corporations. John has an intrinsic flair for helping banks think strategically to meet current and future staffing demands and his expertise lies in matching banks with the talent they need to achieve their long-term goals. John can be reached at or 612-850-6374.