Goal: A low-cost training program that utililizes the resources available in the bank to train potential officers in a structured way.

Pitfalls: Assigning new people to work with Mr. Gridley, who has had 40 years' experience in the job.

Problem: Mr. Gridley has not had 40 years' experience. He has had one year's experience 40 times.

Furthermore, Gridley will look at the bright young new employee and think, "He wants my job. The only way I can keep my job is to make him look bad so the bank will appreciate what I do and how I do it."

Better approach: An organized program that judges Mr. Gridley as a teacher as much as it judges the new recruit as a student. This motivates Mr. Gridley to be a positive force and not a roadblock.

From the Top

The Start: The community bank gets- few enough recruits that it can afford to make a fuss over each one. This should involve a luncheon with top management during the first week, if not the first day, followed by introduction to the entire staff.

Next: The recruit should be given an itinerary of what he or she will be doing for the next several months.

This should include a list of the departments to which the recruit will be assigned and the officer in charge of training and how long the slay will be.

The Ins and Outs

One hopes the recruit will sit down with this department officer immediately to learn what the department does and what role he or she will be expected to fill while undergoing training.

The training will consist not only of the day-to-day job, but interviews with everyone in the department, or at least several of the people if there is duplication of function.

(The recruit need not talk to every teller, just enough to understand what tellers do and what their problems are).

Then, at the end of the internship in that department, the recruit will have to prepare a written report on the department, including what it does and what the recruit sees as its strengths and weaknesses.

Giving Praise

If the CEO really wants to get the best out of these new people, he will not only read the reports but reward with favorable comments both the recruit who is able to point out weaknesses and the officer assigned to train the recruit.

The CEO may even wish to circulate the entire report to the staff or circulate parts that would be useful as examples.

Only after the recruit has been assigned to each of the major departments should a decision be made on placement in the bank.

Other assignments: Each recruit also should be given some serious reading to do at home as part of the training.

In particular, I advise that the recruit first be given a pamphlet available from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York called "Money Master or Servant?" about the role of banks in the economy, and "The Moneychangers," Arthur Haley's novel of the banking industry.

After this is done, I would give the recruit the bank's annual report and any other literature available on the organization.

Further Reading

Following that, I would either give or lend each recruit a marvelous textbook, "Money and Capital Markets"' by Dr. Peter S. Rose of Texas A&M (Richard D. Irwin, 1992).

It not only describes banking and most related fields, like mortgage-backed securities, but it can serve as a reference for the recruit when unfamiliar terms or practices come up.

(As an aside, I have written my own banking book, but I stopped assigning it to students because I think Rose's is superior).

Finally, I would suggest that recruits read the daily and weekly financial press, and that their mentors periodically sit down with them and discuss current issues of interest to the bank to get them in the habit of looking outside the internal operations of the bank to augment their personal growth.

Icing on the cake: After about six months on the job, recruits should be asked to spend 10 minutes at a board meeting talking about their backgrounds and what they have learned.

Additionally, whenever possible, a recruit should be part of meetings with customers.

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