A Fair Analogy

Be the most learned of the fair, most fair of the learned

August 19, 2013

The Wisconsin State Fair is a tremendous event. I attended last weekend and enjoyed the traditional creampuff, listened to some great music, got lost near the horse barns, and rode the Ferris wheel.

I enjoyed the perspective of the fairground from the top of the Ferris wheel.  I noted the crowd, the grandstands, and pinpointed various activities.  I observed a riot of colorful, complex moving components. 

I considered that as I experienced the fair from “on high.” I wasn’t in a position to sell corn dogs, direct traffic in the parking lot, judge floral displays, show a cow, or chase the errant sheep.  My position was well-defined and limited—a small but relevant part of the whole event. 

This experience is analogous to our various roles in the workplace.  Some are in positions of governance—observing from a higher altitude, setting policy, and monitoring risk.  Others manage various operations as experts in a particular field with functions and staff to coordinate. Others handle vital daily tasks and foster excellent communications and stellar service interactions with the public as frontline employees.

“In fair weather, prepare for the foul.”  --Thomas Fuller, English historian

Those in governance positions are vigilant in monitoring the environment.  This week, governance issues are prevalent in research findings.

“Financial institutions increasing their focus and resources on risk management,” notes a new Deloitte survey.  

“About two-thirds of financial institutions (65%) reported an increase in spending on risk management and compliance, up from 55% in 2010.”  The financial crisis created opportunity for change in practices of risk management and compliance issues and “financial institutions have to be able to plan for future hurdles while enhancing their risk governance, analytical capabilities, and data quality efforts today…those that do will be well placed to steer a steady course…”

Read this report and learn managing operational risk remains a continuing challenge for financial institutions.  This report “assesses the risk management programs, planned improvements, and continuing challenges among global financial institutions.”

“A governance operating model may assist the board and management in fulfilling their governance roles,” states Deloitte in another helpful resource, “Developing an Effective Governance Operating Model: A Guide for Financial Services Boards and Management Teams.” 

The guide defines governance models, suggests design components, discusses implementation, and summarizes benefits and advantages of such devices.

How will you stay ahead of the next “regulatory wave”?  Deloitte suggests you consider the following four questions, as provided in “Lead or Be Led: Time to Take Advantage of the New Business Reality.” 

·         Are you aware of regulatory activities and their potential impact on your organization?

·         Is there a specific operational area particularly vulnerable to changes in regulation?

·         Are regulations adapted “in a piecemeal way?”  Is duplication of effort avoided?

·         How are relationships handled with regulators?  Is someone in the organization responsible?

This interesting report discusses the previous issues along with others including capital and crisis management, sustainability, strategy, succession, and technology matters in examination of our new business environment.

The trend is that boards are becoming more forward thinking, according to Grant Thornton’s “2012 National Board Governance Survey for Not-for-Profit Organizations.” 

“Planning for operational efficiency, sustainable growth and competitive positioning are some of the main strategy drivers at the board level,” according to the survey.

Despite the fact that strategic plans are typically in existence, however, “only one-third of organizations have completed an enterprise risk assessment, and even fewer maintain a formal reserves policy.  These demand greater attention…”

“An appropriate governance response limits the risk of heightened IRS scrutiny and constituency discontent, and allows the board greater latitude to focus on the types of long-term stewardship issues that best keep operations and mission aligned.”

You will find numerous graphs and charts in this enlightening report about non-profit board activities and issues.

“Fair and softly goes far.”  --Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish novelist

Fair management practices will grow success.  Do your managers nurture employees?

Practice the “Three Best Ways to Reward People on Your Team,” when employees make special accomplishments in order to grow enthusiasm and foster loyalty.  You will do well when you:

·         “Provide instant reward” as every day of delay “dilutes the impact” of recognition.

·         Make public announcement of the achievement.

·         Reward successes with additional trust and responsibility.

Take note, too, of “10 Things Extraordinary Bosses Give Employees,” according the Inc.  “Good bosses care about getting important things done.  Exceptional bosses care about their people,” according to the article.  Among the 10 things to give every employee: autonomy, clear expectations, consistency, sense of purpose, recognition, and employee development.

“I won all the blue ribbons for canning at the state fair.”  -- Loretta Lynn, American singer

A discussion of interactions with consumers provides the final component in my fair analogy, and allows you to consider how to win the blue ribbons in member service initiatives. 

Learn “Why You Should Make Follow-Up a Priority,” according to MarketingProfs.  Follow-up after the sale or experience enhances marketing efforts and grows business development.  Questions for consideration in your follow up efforts are posed.  In addition, five tips for successful follow-ups include:

·         Make time for positive, caring interactions.

·         Concentrate on building the relationship.

·         Be consistent in your messaging.

·         Remain composed.

·         Welcome and acknowledge the positive benefits of follow up efforts.

Lastly, “Banks That Measure Only Satisfaction Are Leaving Money on the Table,” according to Gallup.  “Truly different customer behavior emerges when the customer is not only rationally satisfied, but also emotionally attached.” 

Emotional attachments create engaged customers.  “Without the emotional component, [banks] are leaving significant cross-selling and up-selling opportunities on the table.  For example, while less than half (45%) of customers who are satisfied say they would consider their bank the next time they needed a product or service, that consideration skyrockets to 83% among customers who are both satisfied and fully engaged.” 

A fair analogy hopefully helps to illustrate the importance of every component in a financial service event, from good governance to responsible management of operations and employees to the various initiatives employees can make in communications with members. 

We all have the responsibility to know what our function is, and to do it well.  Awareness and knowledge of circumstances and environment will help us to achieve.  Perhaps then we can aspire to the sentiment of Italian poet Jacopo Sannazaro and find ourselves the “Most learned of the fair, most fair of the learned.”






Lora Bray is a research librarian at CUNA.