Investing in Your Remote Employees
Ace Watanasuparp - Investing in Your Remote Employees
Featured Speaker, April 15th, 2021
Oh, Kelvin, how do I follow up that introduction? Thank you so much for having me. And I have the, I guess, luxury of opening this up. So again, thank you for having me Kelvin. I'm excited to be here.
And you know, one of the things that I wanted to talk about, as I thought about how do I set the stage? How do I start this session in the right way, right? And I think we all realize is that last year none of us saw this coming. The pandemic, Kelvin, folks working remotely, folks not being connected.
So some of the things that we did in – during the pandemic and as it pertains to my line of business, right? So I'm the national director of strategic sales for Citizens Bank. We do residential mortgages, commercial lending as well. And as you know, last year we probably hit record-breaking interest rates, right? The lowest that we've ever seen in a very, very long time. You know, rates on a three-year fix two-and-a-half percent, unheard of, unseen, never before, and that's the reason why we closed right around 45 billion last year, Kelvin.
So we did the best we've ever done since I've been here at Citizens Bank, but during a very, very challenging time. Everybody was remote. We had to go from in-person meetings to remote access. So not only technology, things of that nature. And we spent 25 million in technology the year before, not realizing that the pandemic would hit and everything would be accelerated.
But one of the challenging things that we experienced last year was the transformation part of it right? It's one thing to invest in technology, it's another thing on how do you train your folks? How do you create support lines for your team members?
I wanted to talk a little bit about what some of us may be experiencing as leaders, right? When we're looking to the future on growth models, what does that look like with folks now mentally have been working from home a year? We're putting together a mandate for folks to come back to work in June. And we have challenges already in terms of folks that are used to working from home and not wanting to come back. Right?
So it's human nature. It's one of those things where we have to continue to develop and think about how do we actually create value for our employees? And one of the things that I wanted to share is for me I have my Five-Five-Five Rule. More than ever we have to stay connected. So Five-Five-Five represents five people in my database that I want to connect with. Five people that I want to have new conversations with, whether it's through LinkedIn, whether it's through Facebook, Instagram, or even emails. And then five people that I want to follow up on recruiting or leads. Right?
So I do this, believe it or not. Every single day. To just stay connected with not only new folks, but folks on my team. And Lauren, please let me know when my five minutes is up. But I truly want to emphasize the fact that [unintelligible 00:03:58] remote today connectivity is so important. Understanding what really tics for folks and I think work/life balance and goals and visions have changed.
And I didn't realize that as we were going through the pandemic, but as we're coming out of it and we're getting the vaccinations and people are coming back to work, I realize from talking to hundreds and hundreds of folks on the sales team and on the operation side that mentalities have changed. So have we changed with the times, or are we stuck still in regards to what we thought was a successful model going forward.
Some of the things that I really want to talk about is, you know, a lot of times we're on Zoom calls, and we're – we have an agenda that we want to hit every single time. But what I've developed throughout, in between these Zoom calls, is what I call Coffee Talk. Coffee Talk is region by region with a lot of my managers within that marketplace. And Coffee Talk is about hearing from them. Not hearing from Ace, not hearing from our leadership team, but really hearing from them as to what's going on in their marketplace. What are they feeling? What do they need from us as a leadership team, right?
I think right now more than ever it's important for us to be amazing leaders, but more importantly amazing folks that listen. Right? Listening to what's going on in terms of their needs and what type of resources we can implement right now.
Because I think training, education, and support is so important, especially with all the new technology that we've rolled out. So many folks have questions in regards to a 1-800 hotline, it being available 24 hours, right? A lot of people – we don't think about the support systems. But more than ever they don't have a colleague to ask questions on or one of their managers to ask questions right there and then, face-to-face and this, you know, resource and this support line is so critical.
Another thing that I wanted to talk about is really about success stories. I think so many times we're on the go, we're on the go as revenue leaders and as rain makers that we always have an agenda. And I think a lot of times we're talking about the next thing that we want to solve or fix for, but we're not talking about things that are actually working, right? We're flying by a thousand miles an hour. So one thing that I really wanted my leadership team to do is take a step back and let's celebrate our wins. Right?
When I talk about success stories I'm talking about acknowledgement, recognition, things of that nature where you know, we give Credo Awards here at Citizens Bank where it's just a – it's acknowledging and thanking them but also sending them maybe a $15 Starbucks card as well. It goes a long way.
It's little things, I think, that will go a long way in today's marketplace. And you know, there's something about emotional IQ, we call it EQ here, where you know, there's just so much going on and so much and so much stress level, you know, mental health is something that's very important in today's environment. And I just want to make sure that us as leaders, we're continually improving ourselves and you know.
I learn every single day on how I can become a better leader. You know, I think forums like this, listening to all the other speakers here, I'm very curious to hear what they're doing in their marketplace or in their industry to really motivate people. Because at the end of the day that's what it's all about.
We all have different products that we're selling or different industries. But at the end of the day it's about how do we get the best out of our people? And I think if we figure out what really tics and what really moves them then we're going to solve, and we're going to definitely create a better atmosphere and culture for the company.
So, I don't know if I'm up to my five minutes yet, Kelvin, but that's what I really wanted to convey to the team here in regards to little things that you guys can take away. I wanted to kind of give you – and I can go deeper, I can dive deeper, Kelvin, I can even dissect a couple of things here, but you know, that's really the mantra that I wanted to – that I want to stick on in regards to just growth within our teams and – look, it's going to take number one, strategic planning on how we want to grow effectively right? Expenses on the technology side, because let's face it. What we've been through has [expanded 00:08:28] technology exponentially. What we thought was going to happen in, let's say five years, Kelvin, is now happening within this last year, right?
So there's going to be a lot of eliminations of processes and we just have to figure out how do we adopt and how do we apply the new technology and how do we make our workforce even better, right? More productive, more effective, and you know, no matter what industry that we're in, consumers have the knowledge and the tools in their fingertips. They can all go online and find out.
I meet with clients today and you know, they're talking about interest rates, they already know what the interest rates are right? Online, everywhere, every bank. So when they come to me they already have an interest rate in mind. So what is it that my team is going to do differently than everyone else?
And that's what we're talking about right? How to stay present. How to be a part of the community when you're not there right now because of COVID, you know, what are some of the things that you can do to create seminars, sessions, speaking engagements such as this, right?
So there's so many things we can talk about and dive into but, look, I'm just appreciative to be amongst all of you guys. I know all of you guys are rain makers in your own right and I'm just so happy to be here, Kelvin, so.