Chase Manhattan Corp. chief executive officer Walter Shipley and Douglas Sims, who heads CoBank, a Farm Credit System lender, have at least one thing in common: They are "behaviorists."
That is how the two bankers are described by G. William Dauphinais, vice chairman of human capital at Price Waterhouse LLP and co-author of the new book "Straight from the CEO," to be published March 1. It is a compilation of insights from leaders of 33 companies, ranging from Royal Dutch/Shell Group to Young & Rubicam Inc.
"These two bankers look at 20,000 employees and don't see them as a big glom but as individuals with untapped potential," Mr. Dauphinais said in a recent interview. "Unless you think about how employees are acting on the job at an individual emotional and behavioral level, you are not going to succeed."
Mr. Shipley offered a detailed look at what he considers the most important factors for top management to consider during mergers. His entry, titled "The Art of the Inclusive Merger," gave this advice: Regardless of the size differential of two combining institutions, a successful merger must always be viewed as one of equals.
Management must be able to explain convincingly to employees how consolidation will bring together important traits from each institution, said Mr. Shipley, who oversaw the marriage of Chemical Banking Corp. and Manufacturers Hanover Corp. in 1991 and also the merger of Chase with Chemical in 1996.
"Employees are far more likely to accept the pain involved in a merger's layoffs and redundancies," he said. "And those who remain will put heart and soul into making a more powerful institution."
By contrast, a chief executive who uses an authoritarian style of merger management can demoralize the staff of the acquired institution, he said. "It can debilitate people's potential, sap their energy and self- confidence, and leave a bad taste in their mouths," Mr. Shipley said.
Mr. Shipley offered advice for top management, but Mr. Sims aimed his suggestions at the typical bank's rank and file. He explained how employees of Denver-based CoBank honed the competitive edge of the $20 billion-asset, government-chartered lender by fostering customer loyalty.
"Businesses spend large amounts of money wooing and winning other companies' customers simply to replace the customers they've already lost," Mr. Sims said. Institutions should focus on maintaining customer relationships, he argued. He suggested convincing customers that the bank's well-being is dependent on theirs.
"We work to emphasize to our customers that their success is our success and that CoBank's success is a tribute to our customers," Mr. Sims said.
Bankers facing the increasingly competitive financial services marketplace would do well to heed the advice of both Mr. Shipley and Mr. Sims, observers said.
"The way banks will differentiate themselves in the financial services world is by providing customers with added value," said Charles B. Wendel, president of Financial Institutions Consulting.