Lindsay LaNore: Perpetual connection

The beginning of a new year is a perfect time for leaders to reflect on how they connect with their employees throughout the year.

By Lindsay LaNore, ICBA

The beginning of a new year is a perfect time for leaders to reflect on how they connect with their employees throughout the year.

In Independent Banker’s 2020 Best Community Banks to Work For survey, community bankers weighed in on what attracts an employee to an employer. Two popular responses were effective communication and the potential for advancement.

It’s very clear that employees crave constructive feedback from their managers and that they are looking for opportunities for professional development. Instead of only addressing these issues during required performance evaluations, make a plan to connect and keep connecting.

Whether you set up periodic meetings or touch base informally, these connections are valuable time between the employer and employee. They’re an opportunity to review current projects, the employee’s role and upcoming priorities, but they’re also a chance to learn about each other, strengthen the manager-employee relationship and focus on professional development.

So, how can leaders incorporate this conversation throughout the year?

It starts with making time and using it well. If you have an hour for a meeting, develop a baseline agenda for it. Cover the essentials, then leave roughly 15 minutes for feedback and career discussion, covering some of the following topics:

  • Attendance and commitment. This goes beyond employee timeliness. How present are they? Do they take a focused interest in achieving desired results for the bank?
  • Communication. Is it clear, concise, timely and appropriate to the audience? Recognizing that communication is everything from written and verbal to nonverbal is important. If remote working has become commonplace for your teams, this is a good time to rethink how to approach communication in this environment.
  • Teamwork. Are they working with others and supporting team goals? Are they welcoming team opportunities versus just singular action?
  • Culture. Are they acting in the spirit of the organization? Is their behavior modeling the standards set out in your community bank’s mission?
  • Time management. With priorities changing frequently and a nimble nature becoming mandatory, is their use of time growing and evolving?
  • Innovation. Are they willing to think creatively and beyond tradition? How do they explore new opportunities and raise the bar?
  • Learning. Are they open to learning new skills? Do they approach work with a positive attitude?

It should go without saying, but honesty throughout this process is a must. Be clear that you are open to questions. Sometimes just making the invitation is enough of an opening for your team member to get to the areas of feedback they are looking for.

It falls upon leaders to ensure they give appropriate time to this feedback loop throughout the year, so commit to continuing the process by setting up regular times to meet. Connecting with your team is critical to their overall success, and, ultimately, happier employees lead to greater results.

Lindsay LaNore ( is ICBA group executive vice president and chief learning and experience officer