Every one of us has said at some time, "Boy, I'd like to give the boss a piece of my mind."
At Twin Rivers Community Bank in Easton, Pa., employees got their wish. Marc S. Winkler, president and CEO, sent an 11-page performance review sheet to his officers, asking them to appraise how well he is doing his job.
To ensure honesty, he had the unsigned surveys returned to a popular, trusted officer, who transcribed the material so there would be no way for Mr. Winkler to take revenge.
Mr. Winkler had come to the New Jersey affiliate of Twin Rivers as an outside consultant on finance and operations, and he later joined the organization as chief financial officer. When the board needed a chief executive officer, it tapped Mr. Winkler, taking to heart regulators' advice that a CEO who could handle asset/liability, finance, operations, and risk management would be more valuable than someone who came up through the lending ranks.
Seven years later, Mr. Winkler wanted to find out how he was doing. He asked his staff to evaluate him in these areas: initiative, judgment, oral communication, organization and control, planning, productivity, professional knowledge, service, time management, written communications, staff development, and delegation. Wow!
As he told me about the results, I felt that some of the more specific comments would be of value to other community bankers-at all officer and staff levels.
What did he learn?
Most startling was that his staff were eager to learn new skills and explore new challenges that would help build their career paths. They also wanted the CEO to tell them how they were doing, where they were headed in the bank, and what they and the bank would have to do to get them there.
Mr. Winkler responded to the criticism. He is now meeting one-on-one with his people, arranging for some to go to various banking schools and otherwise spurring their career growth.
The surveys said Mr. Winkler does not show enough enthusiasm when complimenting staff members. He learned that employees want the CEO to pat them on the back enthusiastically for their triumphs.
On the other hand, the staff complained that Mr. Winkler is very enthusiastic when dealing with new business, often without considering the implications on present initiatives or the time commitment this new business will require.
This interested me in particular. When I asked the officers at a roundtable discussion on the bank, "What should be the bank's primary goal today?" Mr. Winkler said "customer growth," but several others stressed "quality of service to our present customers."
A similar complaint was that he does not let enough subordinates into the planning process.
Finally, employees complained that Mr. Winkler is so focused on the bank's success that he seems to think everyone else should feel the same way.
I have not been entirely fair in my presentation of the survey results. I have ignored the many positive comments and picked up only on the areas where complaints would strike a chord with other bank officers.
Any CEO who would want such an evaluation of his performance and then allow me to write a column on the results to help other bankers must be one superb banker. I could have listed many of the areas where he was strongly praised by the staff, but no readers want to see that-except Mr. Winkler.
Mr. Winkler said he is looking forward to the next evaluation. He is always trying to improve his managerial skills and to warm up his personality and his interest in the day-to-day travails of his people. Most important, he is learning that to be a CEO is like being father of a family, and that a father's praise is one of life's foundations.