Many managers battle with inefficiencies of corporate bureaucracy. Here are several principles which can help mangers of super community banks take charge of their lives.

If anything can go wrong, fix it. Forget Murphy's law; make your own. Things go wrong routinely - it is part of the business environment. Your challenge as a manager is to make sure you anticipate what will go wrong, or to get early warnings as they do and then fix them.

When given a choice two good options, take both. Settling for anything less than the most and best is accepting mediocrity. This does not mean inability to compromise; it only means the pursuit of excellence and the realization of the full potential of your company.

Multiple projects lead to multiple successes. Sequential activities are no longer sufficient in the fast-paced world of financial services. Multitasking is the wave of the future. Management and employees alike can do more than one thing at one time well and be responsible for multiple projects.

Do it by the book ... but be the author. Having method and reasoning in your management is an important success factor, but the new financial services environment requires blazing your own trail. Don't be bound by history; just learn from it.

When forced to compromise, ask for more. Compromise is another necessity of life, but it does not mean you have to give away the store or reduce your expectations to unacceptable levels. Even in compromise there is potential for stretching.

If it's worth doing, it's got to be done right now. Things put off are often left undone. Prioritize, agree on the nonnegotiables, and execute immediately. The banking industry does not value time as other businesses do. One thing I've learned from my consulting career is that time is truly money.

If you can't win, change the rules. Many times we try to win battles on the opponent's ground. That's setting ourselves up to fail. Winning the credit card game on First USA's and Advanta's turf is an unlikely proposition; they have already perfected their craft. Change the rules. Redefine the battlefield. Identify your own niche.

Expecting perfection is not optional. No one is perfect, but that doesn't mean we should settle for anything less. Expecting perfection will raise the quality, productivity, and service levels throughout your company. The only way to get near perfect is by expecting perfection.

When faced with no challenge, make one. Idleness and the lack of goals are poison to the mind and create an unrewarding work environment. People need a challenge, an achievable goal to strive for. Focus on goals, and mobilize the work force to deal with them.

"No" simply means "begin again one level higher." Too many in the business world take no for an answer too often. If something must get done, if a deal needs to be closed, persistence, logic, and approaching the right people can turn no into yes.

Don't walk when you can run. Speed and nimbleness are key success factors in the new corporate world, and especially in financial services. Change your behavior to reflect that. However long you think a task should take, shorten that time - in your own behavior as well as throughout the company.

Bureaucracy is a challenge to be conquered with a righteous attitude, intolerance for inaction - and a bulldozer, when necessary. Companies tend to build bureaucracies as they grow older. Bureaucracy has value - up to a point; beyond that point it becomes an impediment. And at that stage, it is very difficult to eradicate bureaucracy one step at a time. Try the fell swoop approach; it will work.

When in doubt: Think. Most decisions involve trade-offs. Reason out your choice. You and your management team can develop a faceted assessment of the implications of the decision and different courses of action and reason your way through them.

A squeaky wheel gets replaced. We tend to focus on the bottom third of performers - individuals, branches, business units - instead of the top third, the winners. Bottom performers already beyond salvation need to be replaced, not tended to. Everyone should get an equal opportunity to exceed, but those who do not seize it should not get a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance.

The "manager's creed" at your bank may include other principles. Developing your own will create a unique corporate culture. But make sure it demands speed, reasoning, creative thinking, high expectations, and effective execution.

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