Our Viewpoint

Our Viewpoint

Creating a Connected Culture for your Community Bank

December 01, 2012

Importance of a Connected Culture

As you read this, a thought may be running through your mind…why should I care about the corporate culture or the technologies used to connect our employees?  If you want employees who are “all in” then they need to feel they are a part of a community at work with a common goal and/or purpose. This is key to having their full engagement. You may have heard of the Triple Bottom Line (TBL), a business model that focuses on three areas - people, planet, and profits, with an emphasis on sustainability. The bottom line I’m focused on is “people” of course. There are a number of HR surveys and studies available that underscore the importance of employee engagement in the realization of business objectives. When employees are engaged, the value back to the stakeholders and shareholders is evident. Employees who are engaged in their work or mission are not watching the clock to get a jump on quitting time. Engaged employees typically seek ways to further the organization’s mission or goals without the constant prodding or micro-management oversight you will find with the “barely there” employees.

Chief of People

Recently, an ICBA member bank and D+H client promoted a long-time senior manager to the position of Chief of People (some organizations also call this Chief People Officer). At the same time, they created the budget to truly invest in the people at their growing institution. At $300M in assets and 50 employees, this institution is making a concerted effort today to invest in its employees and culture before its anticipated aggressive expansion. While this direction may not be possible for your institution, there are smaller ways in which to invest in your employees and facilitate a more connected corporate culture. It is just important to start, or maintain, that ongoing investment in employees.

Where to start

In a recent article on BAI.org, Jack Craven, of Cornerstone Advisors, provides a compelling argument highlighting the deficiencies in a lot of financial institutions and highlights three areas in order to turn the tide. Towards the end of the article entitled “Where is the Leadership from ‘The Leadership?”, the author makes this statement as a call to action:

The evidence is clear that performance is enhanced when a bank is effective at managing and developing its talent. But banks don’t appear to even do a decent job of getting their people to work collaboratively across functional groups and their organizational cultures are impeding progress. How can banks be expected to develop their people if they can’t even get them to effectively work together? And why are some bank CEOs not even aware of the fact that their own organizational structures are impeding progress? How much longer can they afford for this to go on?

There is certainly more to it than just picking some collaboration tool and expecting magically your employees will be “engaged”. The effort starts at the top and the desire to change needs to find its way to every corner of your organization.

The Technology

Ok, now we get to talk about the cool tools out there. These tools and strategies are designed to encourage collaboration despite geographic disparity, functional group, or management level in your organization. Using these tools can assist with building or maintaining a connected culture in which employees can engage with one another and ensure everyone is working toward a common purpose. As mentioned at the start of the article, these same tools can also facilitate the personal connections most employees are looking for and need in their workplace.

Social Media

In a 2011 BAI.org article on social media strategy, one of the recommended ways to get started in social media is to start internally. Internal Social Media technologies are starting to displace traditional Intranets, which I will get into in a bit. There are a couple of ways to make this internal social media start a reality. One of those options is Yammer, Microsoft’s most recent acquisition. Yammer is designed to be the enterprise version of Facebook. On Yammer’s website, they say: “Whether your company spans seven cubicles or seven continents, Yammer helps your team collaborate on content, ask questions, share knowledge, and get work done.” Yammer also provides a way to create external networks to bring in vendors, partners, or clients to share information or allow for those groups to collaborate with each other. D+H created a Washington Community Banks Yammer network in 2011 to do just that. Another option is a LinkedIn Group, just for your internal employees. Both of these options are designed to provide an easily accessible platform for employees to engage with one another, build community, share knowledge, and get work done faster.

Face Time

No, not Apple FaceTime, although that would work too. What I am talking about it is deploying technologies that allow employees to actually see each other even if they don’t work in the same location. Some examples of this, that D+H has assisted its community bank clients with deploying, are instant messaging (IM) services with video capabilities and full video conferencing solutions. One such secure IM solution we have implemented for financial institutions is Microsoft Office Communicator, now known as Microsoft Lync. With Microsoft Lync, employees are able to send instant messages, share information, and meet face to face using webcams. Similar to another Microsoft owned product, Skype, Lync offers a lot of the same functionality with the added security controls necessary for enterprise deployments. Beyond the person-to-person communication tools, HD video conferencing is another avenue to bring employees and offices together. LifeSize has been a player in this space for close to 10 years and brings a cost effective hardware and software solution to smaller organizations looking to implement a high quality video conferencing solution. With HD video conferencing, there is a need to adequately plan for and build out branch-to-branch WAN connections. D+H has successfully deployed LifeSize solutions in a number of financial institutions.


The idea of an Intranet is not new. According to Wikipedia, Intranet came into the conversation around 1992. What is new are the options available for how to implement and get the most out of an Intranet. Of course, Microsoft continues to offer updates to SharePoint, which has been the standard for Intranets for a number of years. As mentioned earlier, technologies like Yammer have started to replace traditional Intranets. Still there is demand for and development around traditional Intranets.

Most recently, D+H has taken a step beyond just the traditional standalone SharePoint deployments to tightly integrate SharePoint into the Compushare C3 web portal. The Compushare C3 web portal can be used as an Intranet all on its own, but it certainly doesn’t compete with SharePoint head to head on that level. By integrating SharePoint into the C3 web portal, our clients are able to truly have a single location for all employees to find and share information, launch applications, and collaborate with teammates.


I have already written about the obvious benefits these technologies are meant to produce and the importance of those benefits. Employee Engagement is the #1 benefit and what that employee engagement will eventually lead to. I also wanted to mention a couple of other benefits we have seen come out of deploying these kinds of solutions. The first is related to Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery. If your institution has implemented Yammer for example, it can be used as a delivery mechanism for employees to receive news during a disaster.  In a disaster it can sometimes be easier to find an Internet connection than it is to send/receive phone calls.  The other benefit we have seen has to do with information security and security awareness. Should your institution be the target of an email phishing attack or other social engineering attack, having a method other than email to quickly make sure all employees are aware is vital.

D+H is here to partner with its clients to ensure the ongoing success of their business, and implementing these types of technologies is one way we can partner together. To learn more about the possible options or similar types of solutions mentioned in this article, please contact D+H to continue the discussion.


Don Baham
Director, Account Management

As a director of account management, Don advises financial institution clients in all areas of technology management, with a primary focus on information security. Don offers over 12 years of solid performance with a blended background in consulting, technology management, and training. Don takes an innovative and professional approach to consulting with a proven ability to identify, analyze, and solve issues and increase customer satisfaction.