The change imperatives facing today’s banks are fairly well known: regulatory change, operational change, competitive change and technological change all loom large on the industry’s change agenda. Yet, surprisingly, few seem to be as focused on the one change that will underpin all others: cultural change. Fewer still seem to be tapping into their employees using social networks to help create the new culture.
Indeed, we believe that – in this time of disruptive change – banks need to be more focused than ever on their internal culture. In part, this is because none of the new changes, processes or policies will ever achieve their stated objectives if employees do not understand, support and abide by them. Building a more responsive, transparent and trustworthy bank requires a culture that reflects, reinforces and encourages those attributes.
But culture change is also critical for the banks’ employees who – for the past four years or more – have been kicked around by the regulator, the public and even their own leadership and as a result, are sorely lacking in engagement and tend to feel undervalued or unrecognized. For these key stakeholders, culture change cannot come soon enough.
Changing the culture of today’s banks will certainly not be easy. For some, it will require wholesale change from the conservative ‘blame’ culture that dominated the industry in the past, and towards a more collaborative and transparent culture where employees are encouraged to contribute to the organization, share their ideas and even blow whistles when necessary.
For others, the biggest challenge will be in developing a culture that meets the needs of the employees while balancing those of the business, the regulators and the stakeholders. Newer employees, in particular, will expect to be more involved in the organization’s decision making and will want to share their ideas with their peers.
Crowdsourcing is a relatively new concept for banks, but very well accepted in other consumer-focused sectors like retail, telecoms and healthcare. Essentially, crowdsourcing is where organizations use social media tools to build a collaborative ‘crowd’ that they can tap into for any number of reasons. Some, like the Commonwealth Bank of Australia or Sberbank of Russia already use crowdsourcing approaches to encourage their customers to propose new ideas and products, exchange opinions and vote on other customers’ new ideas.
But few – if any – banks have yet to apply the awesome power of the crowd to their own internal culture challenges. And in this, we believe that banks are missing a trick.
The reality is that banks’ employees are – by far – in the best position to help drive culture change. For one, each of them should be banking experts and well-aware of the bank’s priorities and challenges and can therefore be expected to act in the best interest of the bank. But at the same time, they are also banking customers meaning that they are able to offer their organization some unique and valuable insights from a customer perspective.
And since it will ultimately be the employees themselves that will need to roll out, reinforce and embody the new culture within the bank, it seems intuitive that they should also be involved in shaping and implementing the cultural change as well.
We believe that crowdsourcing offers banks a valuable and effective way to engage their employees in the culture change that must now occur. The benefits are clear: crowdsourcing allows banks to be resource-savvy (crowdsourcing is less costly than focus groups or surveys); gain greater reach (social platforms can reach even the most remote employee or branch); act with greater speed (results of crowdsourcing can be monitored and acted upon in real-time); and foster greater engagement (by holding fluid two-way dialogue with staff on key issues).
However, applying crowdsourcing approaches to cultural change programs is not as simple as posting a question on Facebook and waiting for responses to flood in. Indeed, change leaders and business executives will need to be very clear about who should participate in the crowd, what they want to learn or discuss, and how they will use that information to create positive change.
Banking executives will also want to clearly think through how employees will be kept informed on how their ideas are being used, how results will be reported and how employees will be incentivized for good ideas or constructive contributions.
Recently, we’ve been working with our crowdsourcing partner (Chaordix) to develop a system tailor-made for capturing the voices in the crowd. The platform (known as Crowd Connection) allows organizations to engage key stakeholder groups using Chaordix’s technology platform and KPMG’s insight into the design, interpretation and monitoring of the program to create ongoing conversations about an organization’s strategic objectives.
What we have found in showcasing Crowd Connection to banking leaders around the world is that banks are eager to discover new approaches that can help them design, implement and sustain cultural change and employee engagement. They are keen to explore how new social platforms will help them achieve greater efficiency and flexibility. And they are impatient to start using the system as a way that allows them to gain competitive advantages over their peers.
Simply put, we don’t need a crowd to tell us that the time has come for crowdsourcing. The real question is whether banks are ready to find out what their employees actually think.
By Matt Sevenoaks, KPMG in the UK