Training for the Future


By Jack Hartings, Chairman of ICBA

About six years ago my community bank made an important shift in its hiring practices—our goal became to develop the best future leaders.

Previously we had hired some veteran officers from larger institutions, and although they were solid individuals we learned their philosophies on community banking was quite different from ours. We spent an enormous amount of our time and energy trying to change the way those individuals served our customers and brought in business. I realized all of the seasoned banking experience these individuals had gained wasn’t much of a benefit to our community bank.

We want our senior officers to have not only strong banking knowledge and skills but also a true community bank philosophy of relationship banking. We want our employees to know how to build relationships with our customers that span long careers here at The Peoples Bank Co. For that reason we want people who are interested in working for our bank throughout their careers, not just for a few years before moving on. We also want them to have the desire to live, work and participate in the communities we serve.

As a result, we decided to take a longer look at our needs to develop future managers and leaders. We started by hiring and promoting talented individuals—typically recent college graduates with business degrees—and training them to become community bankers. We established a multi-year management training program that teaches our most promising future leaders about every facet of our institution. Then we give them a specific job responsibility to learn thoroughly.

The first person to participate in our management training program is a young woman who had worked for us as a part-time teller while in college. Since completing the program she has become one of our top mortgage originators and underwriters.

The second employee to complete the training program is a young man we hired after he graduated from college and began working at another community bank about 30 miles away. After completing our program he became a commercial lender. He has done a wonderful job building his own book of customers as well as assisting other officers. He recently completed his year as president of a local Rotary Club.

Our bank has since promoted another employee who participated in our training program, and she is now an officer who oversees our Internet and mobile banking programs and ATM functions. Meanwhile, a fourth employee has started our training program, and we hope to prepare him soon for a position as a consumer and residential loan officer.

Along the way our management training program has taken advantage of many ICBA webinars and online training courses. Last year we also sent one newly appointed officer to the ICBA’s Leadership Development Conference, and we are sending another officer to this month’s conference in Indianapolis. We plan to continue using ICBA’s education resources and sending at least one of our officers to the leadership conference every year.

We want and need to do this—investing in the futures of our employees and our community bank—on our own terms, in our own best way.

Jack Hartings is president and CEO of The Peoples Bank Co. in Coldwater, Ohio.