Prior to arriving at Radius Bank, I worked for a large insurance company, where there was a noticeable divide between the “old guard” and the “new guard.” I also worked at a small startup, where the oldest person was 40—and the fridge was constantly stocked with beer.
When I first started working at Radius I had an introductory meeting with Mike Butler, president and CEO. During our conversation he encouraged me to feel comfortable challenging the status quo and to push the boundaries in this new role. He said that he and his leadership team wanted new ideas and would offer guidance as needed.
“My job,” he said, “is to give you enough rope to run—but to pull you back if you’re about to hang yourself.”
I’m reminded of this quote each time I bring a question or new idea to the table, because it’s met with genuine consideration. There’s a deep mutual respect between the more experienced team members and the newcomers. I think this is unusual, and an important factor in our bank’s ability to innovate.
The banks that will succeed tomorrow are the ones that are open to change today. We all know the consumer landscape is rapidly changing, and we need to adapt to those changes quickly—or risk being left behind.
According to the 2016 Gartner Financial Services Innovation Survey, “The biggest threat to innovation is internal politics and an organizational culture, which doesn’t accept failure and/or doesn’t accept ideas from outside and/or cannot change.”
After all, most of our clients aren’t bankers themselves, so inviting industry-newcomers to offer their “outsider” perspectives is critical.
This kind of open culture is also appealing to younger workers and can help banks build a pipeline of talent.
One of the oft-repeated points about millennials is that we are eager to make an impact; we aren’t content to just do a job, we want to know our contribution matters. While some may think this is a stereotype, I think there’s truth to this, and that it can be used to an employer’s benefit. Encouraging younger workers to be part of shaping the future of the company creates buy-in and long-term loyalty.
Creating this kind of culture needs to start from the top. A company needs to have a strong leadership team that is open to innovation and able to use their experience to vet and shape new ideas.
When I first joined the bank, I was a little intimidated. The support of our leaders allowed me to feel comfortable challenging the status quo, knowing they would pull me back from going too far.
So, from prior jobs that sat at opposite ends of the spectrum, I have landed in a culture that’s somewhere in the middle. I enjoy the balance. I appreciate that my perspective as an industry “outsider” is valued. I also appreciate the ability to learn from the deep knowledge our leadership team brings to the table. I’m excited to keep running, knowing there’s a team to back me up.
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