A Culture of Empowerment

As a well-mannered Southern gal, I respect a good apology.

Apologies come to my mind in the wake of reading the Forbes’ article “Courageous Leaders Don’t Make Excuses…They Apologize” posted last week on their website. The article breaks down the necessary components of an apology, which basically boils down to owning it. If you really think about it, apologies can be empowering. Why?

If you’re making an apology, you’re taking responsibility – and feel empowered to do so. But apologies shouldn’t only come from top management – from the top down, everyone in your organization should feel the ownership and empowerment required to make a good, solid apology.

A culture where it’s encouraged to take responsibility and say “I’m sorry” – no ifs, ands, or buts – is a culture of empowered employees. So how do you create this culture of empowerment?


As a customer, is there anything worse than going to a retail store or restaurant where you can tell that the employee just doesn’t get it? With the right tools and mindset, employees are going to feel empowered to make the right decisions. In the article, “Cultivating the Talent Within”, Robert Phelps of Bank Director interviews Bank of Marin CEO Russell Colombo. Bank of Marin invests in its employees through a nine-month training program, and as a result is able to obtain a lot of “home grown” talent.

The Right Tools

Apologies don’t always occur face to face. Do you use social media as part of your customer service program? Do you have someone dedicated to twitter and facebook, with social media guidelines in place? If not, you need to – it’s increasing vital to invest in social media. It’s important to be where your clients are, to address their needs both online and in person (and just because you’re not on Twitter doesn’t mean your customers won’t talk about you there!). Check into the article “Demystifying Social Media” for a good breakdown of the basics.

Hire the Right People

Easier said than done, I know, but I know from experience that it’s better to wait and hire the right person than to rush and hire the first available. John Kanas took Florida’s BankUnited to #6 on Bank Director’s 2012 Bank Performance Scorecard just 3 years after acquiring the remains of BankUnited FSB. How did he do this? In part, by hiring the right people: “the key to the success of any large company is embedded in its human talent,” said Kanas (as quoted in a 4/1/12 Smart Business piece). He continues:

“We didn’t try to find bargain basement employees,” Kanas says. “We found people who were truly distinguished in their field, and we pulled them out of very good jobs at other banks. I guess that’s another way of saying it’s more expensive than you think it’s going to be. It’s more work than you think it’s going to be. But it’s also a lot more rewarding than you think it’s going to be if you succeed.”

They say the best advertising is word of mouth – and a culture of empowered employees can provide the best advertising for your company. How are you empowering your employees?


1 Comment

  1. Pingback: A Winning Branch Strategy « Heart of the Matter

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