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Bank sales leaders talk about how their days are crammed full of meetings, so much so that coaching and calling on customers often get crowded out of their schedules. Many Relationship Managers, who are bombarded daily by internal requests to provide updates on everything that involves their customers (and some things that don’t), estimate that they spend less than 20% of their week on business development.

This is a big issue and is taking a toll on productivity, morale and results. Teresa Amabile of the Harvard Business School has concluded that interruptions—meetings, emails, administrivia—make it easy to lose focus on priorities.

Held hostage by our technological tools, buried under daily avalanches of email and juggling an increasing array of administrative and compliance issues, many bankers are understandably frazzled.

So what’s a busy banker to do? Here are some time management techniques to stay on track:

  1. Schedule time to perform certain tasks. Figure out your peak times for certain important activities. If you write more fluidly at 6 AM, that’s when you should do your credit memos. Determine the best time to call your customers and prospects to schedule appointments. Put it in your calendar. View it like a meeting that you’ve scheduled with an important client and you’ll show up.
  2. Limit distractions. Disable that noise that lets you know another email has arrived.  If you need to concentrate, close your door or find a place where you won’t be interrupted.
  3. Concentrate on one thing at a time—no multi-tasking! If you’re on a phone call, don’t be scrolling through your email inbox or sending text messages. Some bankers delude themselves into thinking that they can juggle 5 tasks at once—it’s not possible!
  4. Take notes in meetings. Ask questions. Summarize what you’ve heard. (These are all things that good listeners do.)
  5. Take breaks. A quick walk around the block or 50 sit-ups might just resuscitate you. 
  6. Apply the STOP technique.  Step back; think; select the best option; and proceed.

Sales Managers have a role to play here too. You have to ask yourself whether there are things you can do to free people up to spend more time with customer and prospects. Possibilities include:

  • Shifting non-customer activities to others: One bank I know found a way to free up 3 hours a week per RM by reassigning responsibility for certain customer service and administrative tasks to support staff. That worked out to about 1.5 more face-to-face calls a week. That adds up!
  • Assessing your own routines: Start by looking in the mirror. Look closely at your schedule.  Are you losing sight of the things that you can do to drive revenue? Are there questionable “priorities” you have to drop? (Management guru Peter Drucker once said identifying “posteriorities” or things that should not be done is much harder than establishing priorities.) If you’re not thinking about ways to improve your weekly meetings and coaching sessions—not necessarily to make them more efficient, but to make them more valuable to your team—you could be short-changing your team. Get some feedback from them. Have a peer observe what you’re doing.

Busy isn’t bad if you’re productive. It’s when you lose control of your time that you need to regroup.

Comments? Let me know what you think.If you like what you see on this blog, share it with others in your organization.

Budget time approaching? If you would like to discuss your plans for 2018 contact Ned Miller at 484-433-2378.