Inside the Performance Chain: An interview with US Bank's Richard Davis
Congratulations to Richard Davis for his induction into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame — today!
US Bank: Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), with $330 billion in assets, is the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association, the 5th largest commercial bank in the United States. The company operates 3,089 banking offices, 5,092 ATMs in 25 states, and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions.
About Richard: “I could have been a pastor as easily as a banker. I started as a teller, working my way through school. I became interested in ‘how does it all fit together?’ I’m one of those guys – “just tell me how it works.” Richard is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Bancorp. He has served as Chairman since December 2007, as President since October 2004 and as Chief Executive Officer since December 2006.
“When I stepped into my role, we had disaffected employees. We are in a service business which means we need really, really engaged employees who serve and create happy customers, who in turn lead to results for the bank.
“When we held a large investor relations event about a year after I became CEO in 2007, I built my whole presentation about how employees were going to take the front seat. One analyst who follows the bank publicly questioned the approach. She doubted that a focus on employees would have the needed impact.”
A year later, that analyst told Richard he was right – focusing on employees was paying off.
Richard turns to CPR when he talks about the evolving needs of the constituents: Consistent, Predictable and Repeatable. For investors, predictability is the most important aspect, while customers appreciate all three, making sure there are no surprises in their experiences. CPR gives employees confidence, and they enjoy representing the organization.
“The key is not to do things out of character with who we are as an institution. It works.”
We’re doing this interview in an uncertain time for banks with lots of regulatory change. How do you keep the organization focused in a time like this?
“Here’s how I look at it and what I say about it: First we’re a bank, regulation is a fact of our lives. Second, we have 62,000 employees. I want 60,000 of them focused on customers and I want them to trust that the other 2,000 are dealing appropriately with regulatory changes. That other 2,000 have the best interests of the 60,000 and our customers in mind as we react and respond to changes.
“I don’t complain about regulators. If I do it, it gives 62,000 other employees a reason to be frustrated. Stop whining. Lead. Look for the light – the true light at the end of the tunnel. The real question is “what role did you play in our economic recovery?”
What are the key attributes of your company’s performance chain that come to mind?
“People. Empowered people.”
Can you relate to how speed, flexibility, predictability and leverage play a role in the way your company operates? Let’s start with predictability.
“Predictability goes with ‘CPR.’ No surprises – consistently good service. Communications across all levels of employees is critical. We have a quarterly leader meeting with 1,000 leaders. We talk about the business and the environment. We talk up to them and empower them to do the same with their employees. Rather than controlling the flow of communication, they asked that we expand the information sharing, so we’re now having a similar conversation with the next 6,000. The idea is to build understanding and empowerment, leader to leader.
“If we want consistent performance, we have to rely on each employee to act within their role with as much information as possible.
“In our business, leverage is all about people. Again – I fully believe if employees are happy, empowered and know what to do, they will drive happy customers. Happy customers drive results.
“I tell people all the time, if you like what you do, do it for the rest of your life.”
Read more of my conversation with Richard Davis in ROAR: Strengthening business performance through speed, predictability, flexibility, and leverage. www.roarthebook.com
Pragmatic optimist with over 20 years of leading meaningful change. Sees every performance chain through lenses of speed, predictability, flexibility and leverage. Gets excited when smart decisions align with what customers value and generate stronger business performance. More about Chris.
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