A former teller tells all

By Stephanie Kubert

As a part of the Haberfeld consulting team, who began my financial services career as a teller, I love seeing so many tellers transform professionally once our program has successfully become part of their culture.

“Back in the day,” when I was a teller, tellers were not often included in the communication loop in regard to bank goals and strategies. Tellers were expected to show up on time, balance their cash drawers and were only occasionally asked to participate in a few strategic sales or service initiatives. And even then, aside from keeping track of the teller’s individual contribution to the initiative, branch or company-wide achievements were not often announced or celebrated. Opportunities to be included as a part of the team were rare, and from what I often observe, it’s stillthe norm at many financial institutions. Small wonder teller turnover is problematic at so many financial institutions.

Each time I kick-off a new client, I so appreciate being able to spend time with the entire front line staff, including the tellers, and having an upbeat discussion of our strategy. I often see tellers walk into my classroom with a certain amount of apprehension. As the strategy is presented, eyes light up and smiles appear. No one is marginalized or talked down to. Achieving success is presented as a team effort, in which everyone has a role to play. We explain the numbers, talk about goals and clearly articulate expectations to the entire team.

Of course, our most successful clients continue to involve tellers long after I leave and fashion a true culture of inclusion. Things that make a difference include defining and acknowledging the teller’s role in the strategy, creating new opportunities for tellers who want to become more involved, recognizing and rewarding individual achievements and celebrating team successes.

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing the growth and confidence of many of the once apprehensive tellers when I return for subsequent training engagements.  Many have advanced within the organization, thanks to their involvement in the acquisition and growth program. And others simply express new found satisfaction in their role as a teller. “Things are different now…in a positive way,” is a sentiment many tellers have shared with me when I return.

Many financial institutions pay lip service to the old adage that, “Tellers are the most important individuals in our organization.” I wholeheartedly agree. Taking it to heart and acting on it can have a positive impact on an organization as a whole and in the professional lives of those very important individuals.

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