Vice Chairman, FirstMerit Corp.; Chairman and CEO, FirstMerit Michigan
After FirstMerit bought Citizens Republic Bancorp last year, adding branches in Michigan and Wisconsin and nearly doubling the bank's headcount to over 5,000, Sandy Pierce helped lead an effort to hold sit-down meetings with employees across the entire region. The purpose was to hear from workers on the ground what needs to be improved.
Since the beginning of this year, Pierce has met with "hundreds and hundreds" of employees across FirstMerit's five states, usually in groups of around a dozen at a time, she says. These meetings are held to let employees speak candidly, without fear of reprisal, about their concerns, and to get input about what works and what needs to be improved. "I really ask two questions: 'What's going well?' and 'What do we still need to work on to make this the best bank in the Midwest?'" she says.
The employee input has led to changes both small and large. One reform: the bank made it possible for call-center employees to address more customer issues without going up the ladder to FirstMerit's tech and operations group.
The feedback also led to the establishment of an initiative that is designed to ensure top-quality customer service and to harmonize the bank's internal culture.
In addition, the bank established a group to work on solving larger problems identified by employees, changes that require end-to-end reengineering of internal processes.