Virtually everyone agrees that ongoing education is essential in the pursuit of career success. That said, there are a number of questions confronting today’s managers and executives regarding their own education:
• How much education does a successful executive need today?
• Should all business executives pursue an MBA?
• Is an advanced degree worth the time and money that will need to be expended?
• Should they seek education through traditional or non-traditional methods?
• What are the most effective processes for assuring continuous learning?
The answer to each of these questions is, “it depends” on where you are in your career path, whether you are satisfied with that path, and where you want that path to lead. Three keys to making sound decisions regarding your own education are:
1. Your Purpose
YOUR PURPOSE: The key here is to begin with the end in mind. Acclaimed business author, Clayton Christensen, asks the poignant question, “How will you measure your life?” When you have discovered the answer to this, educating yourself to that end will become your mission. This is a critical element in answering questions regarding education for every manager, executive, or aspiring executive. Why? Because education should be relevant to your personal purpose in life—and correspondingly—in your career.
RELEVANCE: Relevance simply means that you have assessed what it will take to develop the skills and attributes to achieve your purpose. To truly achieve relevance, one must generally take some time to study others who have successfully navigated the path to success for that purpose. While this is the beginning of the education process, the goal here is to identify how these role models educated themselves—and to consider how to use those insights in developing your own education plan. As you consider the path taken by others, be sure to continually ask yourself, “How do their paths—and the steps within them—correlate with my purpose? Does it truly pass the test of relevance for me?” As important as role models are, this is about you—and no one else!
COMMITMENT: When your life and career purposes are clear and your education plan meets the standard of relevance, the issue of commitment must be addressed. Commitment is a function of cost versus benefit. Having met the standard of relevance, the benefits of your education plan should be clear. However, this doesn’t mean that you are committed to that plan. True commitment will come when you have counted the costs, in terms of dollars, time and effort. An MBA today, for example, will often cost upwards of $70,000, will require 2-3 years of study (either in a full-time or evening/weekend course format), and will demand significant, intense study and preparation. It will cut substantially into your time for other pursuits, including family, recreation, and community. The benefits may seem clear and very relevant to your purpose, but are you fully prepared to pay the cost to enjoy those benefits? If not, you are not committed!
One of the important costs to be considered in executive education is waste. This is closely related to both the concepts of relevance and commitment. If the education plan you decide upon does not closely correlate with what you need to learn to be successful in fulfilling your purpose, it has waste in it. It is a defective plan because it includes too many elements that don’t fit your needs. Too often, curriculum-based platforms (including MBA programs) include courses that have no direct value in relation to one’s purpose. Because the challenge of such programs is to provide a broad-based array of courses to meet the needs of the masses, some waste is inevitably a natural effect. There may be 30 courses to be taken and passed over a two-year period, of which only a third are really relevant to your personal purpose.
This speaks to the importance of educational effectiveness, but it is also important to understand that education should also be efficient. It is increasingly important for executives and managers to be able to “learn in the moment of need.” In the course of our daily work lives, we regularly find our understanding of a given issue or subject is inadequate. We don’t have the time to “go back to school.” Indeed, we often even have too little time to read a book or research the subject. With the advent of the internet, we increasingly expect our answers to come almost in “real-time” through Google or Wikipedia. Our attitudes have shifted significantly; anything slower than “right now” seems inefficient.
This sense of inefficiency bites us in other ways as well. If coursework requires travel to a campus or other venue, this may prove to be less efficient than doing online studies. However, the loss of face-to-face discussion with others may make such a time investment well worth it. Other time issues that must be considered as potential waste are the necessity for writing papers, taking quizzes and exams, and other normal processes used in traditional educational environments. These may be very appropriate, or you may find them to be “necessary evils” that waste your time.
As you consider your personal educational plan, don’t fail to seriously count the costs to determine if the benefits of your plan are worth it. Making an absolutely firm commitment to your plan is essential to your success in fulfilling your purpose.
In summary, whether you are a CEO, a seasoned executive, or a manager aspiring to move into the executive suite, your personal education plan should be a function of your purpose, relevance, and commitment. With that in mind, let’s examine a bit more thoroughly the educational options available to you:
• Traditional curriculum-based educational programs, typically oriented toward degrees such as MBAs, etc.
• Personal study—reading, books on tape, e-books, etc.
• Mentors and coaches
• Business forums and meetings
• Online training including webinars, social media, chat, blogs, vlogs
• Experiential learning through internships, sabbaticals, or projects
The following table helps to delineate the strengths and weaknesses of these options—and will help you in assessing their relevance to your purpose and understanding the costs and benefits of each:
|Executive Education Options||Strengths/Benefits||Weaknesses/Costs|
|Traditional curriculum-based educational programs||
|Mentors & Coaches||
|Business Forums &Meetings||
Richard Tyson is the founder, principal owner and president of CEObuilder, which provides forums for consulting and coaching to executives in small businesses. For 21 years, CEObuilder has successfully brought about an outstanding financial return for CEO and executive clients through providing leading-edge content in the areas of strategizing, team-building, problem-solving and managing for results, as well as the use of proprietary learning and coaching.
Guest post by Ken Burnett, VP/ Director of Training and Business Development, Bank of American Fork
This series is written from experience and is part of Bank of American Fork’s training program. The program embraces the philosophy that training is a skill-based job, and managers need to learn specific skills to be successful.
Changing behavior or adding new knowledge or skills to a job can be a difficult task in the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, management of many organizations believe that behavior can be changed or knowledge added by simply requiring attendance at a training course or using a job aid or performance aid. Oh, if it were that easy. The cycle for changing behavior does involve a learning component, but a few other critical parts must also occur. Coaching, feedback, measures and metrics must also be part of changing behavior or it won’t stick.
The performance cycle starts with the introduction of a skill or knowledge. There is a process to introduce a new skill:
1. Become aware of the new skill or task, its importance and when to perform it.
2. Introduce a performance metric as a goal.
3. Learn how to perform the task or targeted skill intervention as needed.
4. Attempt the task.
5. Receive coaching and/or feedback for the performance.
6. Start again at step 3.
This process is the way to learn how to do anything at work or another place. The focus of this discussion will be coaching and feedback—step 5. Coaching and feedback moves the performance of the learner from novice (usually) to proficient or even expert. Introducing a new skill or knowledge in a training environment can never completely bring an associate to mastery, regardless of the approach. It would be difficult to include all of the random and challenging working conditions and practice the skill enough in a training environment.
Coaching and feedback are really two different, distinct processes. Coaching is the process of extending the learning of the task. Feedback is clearer cut. Feedback is either constructive (the task was not performed correctly) or positive (the task was done correctly). The correct use of both is critical to the learning process. After the completion of training, the manager should sit down with the associate and discuss the new task, answer any questions and help the associate clearly understand the expectations of performance. The next step is the most critical in the learning cycle—when the associate tries the task for the first time.
The manager should then discuss the performance with the employee. Set the expectation that after each attempt at something new the associate should reflect on their performance. The job of the manager is not to lecture, but to guide the associate through the task so the employee owns their behavior.
This can be accomplished by asking the associate, “How did it go?” or “What went well, and what did you struggle with?” Both of these questions should start a healthy dialogue. As the manager you share the responsibility for the employee’s performance, so you should be asking questions about issues you observed. For example, “The profitability part of the calculation can be difficult, how did that go for you?” or “Many people struggle with the loan-to-value calculation—what questions did you have in this area?” The combination of using both reflective and guided conversations can make the coaching conversation more effective and less contentious.
Throughout the coaching conversation, balance the importance of performing to a metric and keeping the coaching environment safe. An environment is very threatening if an employee is learning a new skill and the possibility of firing exists with his or her first mistake. At the same time, if the associate never feels that there are any expectations of performance, then they won’t have expectations for themselves, either.
Coaching should be immediate. Your coaching should move from feedback about the whole task to minor performance tweaks. Coaching should continue until the performance standards are met, and then use the standard or metric to note a need for additional coaching.
Feedback can either be constructive or positive. Often, feedback is poorly delivered. For example, “Hey, Joe, you did a good job today.” The employee is left to figure out what he or she did that was good. Many employees rarely receive helpful positive feedback. Employees often respond better to positive feedback, because it relates to the associate’s natural skills, and they may just need a little reinforcement for their skills to really take off. Constructive feedback must be about the task, not the person, to be effective.
Good feedback is:
• task-focused instead of personal,
• actionable and
• invites accountability
Coaching and feedback are both critical parts of learning a task.
Ken Burnett is vice president/director of training and business development for Bank of American Fork. He is responsible for training more than 300 employees on a variety of topics, including coaching and feedback for dozens of senior managers within the organization.
People’s Utah Bancorp President and CEO Richard Beard has been named the chairman of the board for the Western Independent Bankers’ Association. His experience with and passion for community banking has positioned him to help WIB support community banks throughout the western United States.
Beard has been the president, CEO and a member of the board of directors of People’s Utah Bancorp and Bank of American Fork since 2004. He currently serves as a member of the board for the State of Utah Department of Financial Institutions and has also served on the board of directors of the Utah Bankers Association. Prior to his appointment as the chairman of WIB, Beard served on the board and executive committee.
WIB is a trade association that informs, educates and connects community banks with banking-related resources and services to achieve the highest standards of personal and organizational performance. More than 150 community banks in the western states are members. Besides educating bankers, WIB also educates communities on why the community-banking model should matter to local citizens.
Beard and WIB are passionate about the community banking model. Community banks are focused on the unique needs of local businesses and families. Loans are generally invested in the local economy and decisions impacting customers are made locally, by people who live and work in the communities they serve.
According to the Independent Community Bankers of America, community banks fund nearly 60 percent of loans to small businesses, although they compose just 10 percent of the nation’s banking assets. The high-touch, personal service they offer to individuals and communities can’t be matched by banks that make loan decisions a thousand miles away from the borrower’s community.
“When you look to your community banker for a mortgage loan or funding for local business, you can feel confident that they care about what they are offering the community,” Beard said. “Community bankers want to see people get into homes or get the loans they need to grow or start their businesses, and make loan decisions that ensure profits are reinvested in the local economy. We live and work in the community, too, so we have a vested interest in seeing the economy and individuals thrive.”
The number of banks in the United States is shrinking dramatically. In 1990 there were more than 12,000 banks in the country. Today there are less than 7,000, 98 percent of which are community banks. Some experts predict that soon there may only be 3,000-4,000 banks left after the last economic downturn and with continued consolidation subsequently occurring. WIB is concerned with the shrinking number of community banks, since fewer banks mean fewer choices for individuals and business owners.
Business owners benefit from working with local lenders who have unique knowledge about their communities—Senior Economist and Economic Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Robert deYoung calls this “soft information,” and it comes from a relationship-based approach to lending.
Beard’s new position as chairman of WIB will allow him to continue to help preserve this critical community-banking model.
CEObuilder and Bank of American Fork invite you to join us on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 for a forum and presentation by Craig Adams, chief information officer for Continuo. His presentation will address some of the decisions and questions about technology investments that many CEOs struggle with. You can also join the conversation on Twitter at #ceobuilder or LinkedIn.
Many business leaders keep an uncomfortable relationship with technology—maybe you understand that technology is necessary to running, growing and managing a business, but being uncertain about how it all works makes it hard to know what to trust. It doesn’t help that your IT gurus speak another language.
Just like you may reap the benefits of driving even when you don’t understand all of the engineering behind cars, there are technological decisions that can greatly benefit your organization. Some simple tools to help you make technological decisions and communicate with technology specialists can pay huge dividends for your organization.
On Wednesday, April 16, CIO Craig Adams’ presentation will address some of the decisions and questions about technology investments that make many business leaders uncomfortable. The CEObuilder attendees will discuss a framework for making technology investments and for tapping into technology talent in ways that meet business needs and objectives. The group will explore examples of organizations that have paid dearly for technology missteps, as well as organizations that seem to have figured out how to make technology decisions a core competency. Finally, the group will review some of today’s technology jargon to discover where there might be value and what can be discarded as “noise.”
About Craig Adams
Craig has served in multiple leadership roles in the technology industry since 1982. For seven years he was the founder and president of a Utah 100 company that he founded. He served as interim CEO for a multi-million-dollar systems-integration company; was the top technology executive at Viewpoint Digital, a digital-content creation company; and he was vice president of technology at Freeport, a 150-employee technology and marketing organization.
In 2000, he began providing virtual CIO services through his consulting company, Continuo. For more than 20 years, Adams was a volunteer and board member for Kids on the Move, a multi-million-dollar early-intervention preschool for children with disabilities. He was also the chairman for a time. Adams has also served as a volunteer mentor to several startups in the BoomStartup incubator.
This forum will be held at Bank of American Fork, Riverton Branch Conference Room, 2691 West 12600 South, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16. Please RSVP by Monday, April 14 by contacting Heidi at Heidi.firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-642-3139.
We know that convenient and safe banking is important to you, but we also know that convenient means something different for each of our customers. Maybe you’re the type of person that feels most comfortable bringing your cash in to a real, live teller for a deposit. Maybe you like to withdraw money when you’re out and about, but you don’t want to get the kids or puppy out of the car. When you have a question, maybe you want to make a call during your commute (on a safe, hands-free device, of course!). Or maybe you want to make your deposits through your smartphone, since you do much of your other business online.
We are here for you, in the places where you need us to be. We have 13 branches open on weekdays, with real people who care about you—some of you come in and wait for a specific teller because you know them and they know you. Find out the address and open hours of the location nearest you.
We have drive-through banking available at each location weekdays and from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturdays, because we know that’s when some of you need us.
Our customer service team will personally answer your phone calls from 7:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. Monday through Friday at 801-815-BANK. When you have a lost or stolen card outside those hours, you’ll still be able to reach recorded instructions on how to report it.
To conduct basic banking transactions from your phone through our 24/7 Tele-banking service, call our Utah Valley, Salt Lake Valley and toll-free lines, numbers found here.
You’ve probably heard that we offer online banking from your computer at www.bankaf.com. We also have mobile apps so you can bank from your smartphone or iPad®. Download our iPhone® app or iPad app from the iTunes Store® or App StoreSM and the Android™ app from the Android Market™. Customers can also visit the mobile site from an internet-enabled device at www.mobile.bankaf.com without installing a mobile app. Find out all of the things you can do in online and mobile banking here.
If you’re online and have a question or problem you need help with, you’re also welcome to use our “Live Chat” feature at www.bankaf.com, near the top right corner of the browser.
At Bank of American Fork, we want to provide you with safe financial services where and when you need them most!
iPhone, iPad and iTunes are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. App Store is a service mark and iTunes store is a registered service mark of Apple Inc. Android and Android Market are trademarks of Google Inc.
Guest post by Richard Gray
At the start of the year, I talked about steady growth as an answer to a stable economy after the Great Recession. One of the ways we can contribute to steady growth is by investing in local businesses. When you’re considering a lender relationship to help you expand, here are some reasons to consider banking locally, just as you would consider investing in other local businesses.
You will support your local community. Local banks hold deposits from local citizens, then loan that money back out to consumers and small businesses in the area, helping spur job growth and revitalize communities. Locally-owned means profits stay in the community and are spent in the local economy.
Community banks also donate significant amounts to various local non-profit and community organizations and give back to local communities through volunteerism and monetary donations. They provide important financial education to the underserved. Like other types of local institutions, when the people working at financial institutions have their ear to the local ground, resources will go where those local communities need it most.
Local banks are accountable. They have to be. Often they’re dealing with their friends, neighbors and others they know in the community. This promotes responsible stewardship of the community’s wealth.
Local banks know local industry. Your banker can tell you what he or she has seen firsthand in the economy and relate it to local businesses like yours. Your local lender can tell you what has and has not worked for the hundreds of small businesses they’ve worked with over the years. You’ll get expertise from employees who are from the community, know the community and have been working at the bank long enough to know how to best meet the needs of the community. They know the market and have a vested interest in seeing the local economy succeed—after all, they live and work there, too.
You’ll find personalized financial services. At financial institutions that are smaller, with ties to community, there are fewer layers to get to the top, which means you have easier access to executives. Community banks have fewer clients per employee and less turnover. You may even get a real human being to answer your phone call. All of this results in improved customer service. Small businesses can especially benefit from this service by working with their community banker to create a package of products and services that exactly fits their needs at a cost that makes sense.
While some may feel wary that bankers are simply trying to make a sale, business owners should recognize that bankers are highly knowledgeable, but untapped, resources that are qualified to talk about small business matters. It is in their best interest to protect your assets and help your business thrive. If your business is healthy, theirs is, too.
Specifically, some of the information and free services your banker can provide you include:
• Financial counseling on how best to finance a business need or growth.
• Helping you structure your accounts to gain more than the $250,000 FDIC insurance.
• Introducing you to products like CDARS, which guarantees up to $50 million in FDIC insurance with little maintenance on your part.
• Informing you of investment vehicles to maximize your return.
• Advising on insurance products to protect your assets.
• Providing an overview of remote deposit products—including online products—that allow you to deposit checks from your workplace, increasing efficiency and saving you time and money.
• Someone just to bounce ideas off of—your community banker is local and is a generalist who sees and works with a number of different types of businesses and may have ideas to help you or know of resources you could use.
While most consumers use their bank only for deposits and loans, others recognize their bank’s experience and utilize it as a business partner. Do you?
Faster decisions. When loans are submitted for approval at community banks, they go through a local committee rather than being sent off to a faraway board for approval. Decisions are based more on the borrower’s total situation than simply a credit score. Local decision-making means faster turnaround by people who know your name.
Greater satisfaction. Banks with assets under $1 billion (most community banks) provide 46 percent of the industry’s small loans to farms and businesses, although they hold only 14 percent of industry assets. Despite the angst against banks that was especially rampant as reported by media during the Great Recession, there is one segment of the population that was still satisfied with their banks: small businesses, from a J.D. Power and Associates study that measured small business customer satisfaction with the overall banking experience by examining eight factors: product offerings; account manager; facility; account information; problem resolution; credit services; fees; and account activities. Another study cites that small business owners are twice as satisfied with their primary bank if it is a community bank versus a large bank (39% compared to only 15%).
Local lenders are the stewards of the financial resources of the communities they serve. Bankers have the unique opportunity of helping people realize their dreams by using the collective wealth of the community to finance those dreams, whether they are a new automobile, a home, starting a new business or expanding an existing one. Local banks can help fund your dreams as you help support the local economy.
Richard Gray is senior vice president of commercial lending and SBA lending at Bank of American Fork, Utah’s community bank leader, an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Richard also manages the bank’s Murray branch, and he has assisted local small businesses in obtaining SBA funding for more than 25 years. He serves on the board of directors for nonprofit Kostopolus Dream Foundation and was the chairman for nonprofit Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund, Salt Lake City.
Financial tips for navigating the change life cycles of your company
CEObuilder and Bank of American Fork invite you to join us on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 for a forum and presentation by CPA Robbie Chidester. His presentation will focus on working through the life cycles of business. You can also join the conversation on Twitter at #ceobuilder or LinkedIn.
From startup to exit, companies will go through several life cycles. Each cycle is different and presents its own unique set of financial challenges. To make the journey even more difficult, these life cycles do not always happen automatically nor are they always adjacent to one another. You may need to cross a chasm of uncertainty and change to get to the next life cycle. Or worse, you might be forced into an unwanted life cycle. Chidester will discuss critical financial strategies and tactics to help you recognize and prepare your company to “cross the chasm” and safely grow to the next level.
Despite all of the rhetoric, business failures are really only caused by one thing—running out of cash. Chidester will discuss how to design and build your company so that you generate increased cash flow.
Chidester has provided financial services to a vast array of clients, including successful companies in the technology, manufacturing, distribution, logistics and professional services. Robbie has provided financial management and advisory services to more than 25 emerging businesses.
This forum will be held at Bank of American Fork, Riverton Branch Conference Room, 2691 West 12600 South, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19. Please RSVP by Monday, March 17 by contacting Heidi at Heidi.email@example.com or 801-642-3139.
Loan customers who don’t have a Bank of American Fork deposit relationship may now make online payments.
Are you a business owner? Have you ever panicked because you were out of town and forgot to make a loan payment before leaving? Or have you ever had a situation where you missed a few payments and received a collection call from Bank of American Fork? Maybe you felt like you were in a bind because you didn’t have a deposit relationship with the bank so you were unable to make a transfer from online banking.
Now you can set up a one-time or recurring payment for Bank of American Fork loan payments, even if you haven’t set up a deposit account at the bank yet.
1. Access the bank’s website at www.bankaf.com.
2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page under Need Help? and click on Online Loan Payments.
3. To make a one-time payment, click on Quick Pay.
4. To set up a recurring payment, click on New User? and follow the directions to set up a pay schedule.
5. Once the payment is submitted, it will be one business day before posting.
It’s that easy! Remember, we also have a variety of deposit products and online services available. Learn more online.
For more information or help, call 801-815-BANK or find the “Live Chat” service at www.bankaf.com.
You have probably heard the news that 95 percent of U.S. ATMs run on Windows® XP and starting April 8, Microsoft will no longer offer tech support and security updates for this operating system. The good news for Bank of American Fork customers is that Microsoft tech support and security updates have never been our first line of defense for keeping your money safe at ATMs. Bank of American Fork ATMs and accounts have many layers of security to help keep hackers and fraudsters out.
Our ATMs are currently on the Windows XP operating system. We are aware of the tech support deadline and have been working on a solution for several months. Each of our ATMs will be upgraded to Windows 7 this spring—some before and some after the April 8 tech support cut-off. Microsoft will still offer tech support and updates for security threats to Windows 7, a newer operating system than Windows XP.
Besides the layers of security we have in place (that we won’t detail here, to help keep our ATMs and your money safe), we also receive alerts when there are hackers or skimmers and we run reports each day that show abnormal ATM transactions—all independent of the Microsoft security.
As a customer, you still might be concerned about your financial safety. Here are a few tips we can offer:
• You can lower your ATM limit, or the amount that can be withdrawn from your account, by calling customer service at 801-815-BANK.
• You can sign up for smsGuardian™, a text alert service that will alert you to transactions being conducted using your Bank of American Fork VISA® check card via alerts to your mobile phone. Once enrolled, you will receive a text message each time your check card is used for: international or out-of-state check card transactions, purchase authorizations greater than $200, five or more transactions within a 24-hour period or card purchases where the card is not present. You can enroll by visiting www.bankaf.com >Products >Personal >Bank cards. On that page you will find a link to sign up for smsGuardian alerts.
• Always protect your PIN—don’t give it out to anyone and make sure you cover the keypad when entering it at stores or ATMs.
If you are ever unsure about an ATM—whether it appears tampered with or it seems like someone is watching you when you do a transaction—don’t use it and call us at 801-815-BANK.
Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.