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People Matter: Prioritizing Creativity to find Outside-the-Vault Bank Associates

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Imagine you've built a thriving business through identifying market opportunities, finding a niche, and embracing risk. Why in the world would you choose a banking partner whose motto seems to be, "This is how we've always done it"?

We all understand that a bank should be much more than a place to safely store money and earn interest until needed. Community bankers regard their customers as partners, offering creative solutions to address problems and innovative strategies to make the most of opportunities. Our customers deserve creative self-starters who show initiative, from the board room to the drive-through window.

At Country Club Bank, we know that our people are our greatest resource, so our talent acquisition and staff development efforts take passion and creativity into account. As our Head of Human Resources, I seek to bring those same characteristics to the table. Our founder, Byron Thompson, was an entrepreneur and small businessman, and he created a culture of entrepreneurial thinking at Country Club Bank. We approach our customers with an attitude of "How can we make that happen?" — and it takes a special kind of associate to think outside of the banking box to meet our customers where they are.

So how do we find and develop our associates? Let me share a few of our priorities, how they inform our process, and how they ultimately benefit our customers.

Creativity means many different things to different people. That means it's important to define the kind of creativity you're looking for in an associate. At Country Club Bank, we look for creative problem solving skills so our associates can identify a customer's needs and proactively search for a solution, whether it's a product we already have in place or a combination of services that add up to a comprehensive solution.

This specificity allows us to seek out the right kind of creativity for our organization. As Scott Erke of Development Dimensions International notes in an article for Inc., it's important to communicate what you're looking for clearly, saying,.

"What you'll quickly get is a caveat: I need focused creativity because creativity for creativity's sake doesn't get you anywhere."

Fish in a Bigger Pond

It can be easy to fall into the trap of recruiting only business or accounting majors when a candidate with a different background may have just the personal traits we need to build a successful team. As Tom Gimbel, CEO and founder of the staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network writes,

"Don't become pigeonholed into thinking the person with the exact necessary experience is the right person for the role... Consider soft skills – like interpersonal skills, communication skills, thought processes, and emotional intelligence – because they matter."

My own story serves as an example of this. Before transitioning into Human Resources (HR), I was a banker myself, not an HR person. However, my experience in banking served me well as I moved into my current role, providing an in-depth understanding of the work for which I was recruiting. Instead of the strength of my HR experience, I was given the chance to draw on my knowledge of the ins and outs of banking and my interpersonal skills to develop into an innovative talent recruiter and manager.

Don't Overlook Life Experiences

Creativity and competency encompass much more than grade-point averages and employment history on a resume. Has someone taught inner-city kids, trekked in the Himalayas, or served in the military? Life experiences and relationships matter to us at Country Club Bank because we serve a diverse customer base with unique needs, so we've built a team of individuals who can draw on a breadth of experiences to connect with and serve our customers.

Assess Emotional Intelligence

How a person leverages their emotions in the workplace is also a key factor in our hiring process. Emotional intelligence (also known as EQ) measures the "ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions to facilitate high levels of collaboration and productivity." It's a fundamental element of human behavior that is distinct from intellect. I'm a big fan of Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0.He notes in an article in Forbes:

"[Emotional intelligence] affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. Emotional intelligence is made up of four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence."

Relying just on smarts as an indicator of potential success in a role at our bank doesn't usually result in a great fit, which is why we dig deeper on many levels that don't necessarily come across on a resume. 

An Entrepreneurial Culture

Our founder's experience as an entrepreneur informs our culture as an entrepreneurial bank. We are uniquely positioned to effectively serve small businesses and organizations in the Greater Kansas City area because we've lived that experience ourselves. Our associates are more than people behind a counter—they are community members, parents, creative thinkers, and more. 

Our people are truly our greatest assets. We recruit and develop our associates with passion and intention to build teams that can provide an unparalleled level of attention and service to our customers. After all, our customers are creative, passionate, hard-working members of our community. We serve them best when we find and develop those qualities within ourselves as well.

What role does creativity play in your work place? Tweet your ideas @ CountryClubBank.


publication authors

Toni Walsh

Executive Vice President - Human Resources

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