Business leaders make decisions on a daily basis. These decisions are based on the company goals. Sometimes the decision tree doesn’t include every branch of impact. When a company makes decisions that directly impact their clients it is important that they think through potential collateral results. Unfortunately, many leaders are so focused on their income/revenue goals they fail to consider the consequences of their decisions. This can be tremendously harmful.
Take Wells Fargo for example. They had very specific and lofty revenue goals. Apparently when those goals were difficult to achieve, some leaders in the organization decided to pad the results. They set about creating consumer, and business accounts. These weren’t phantom accounts, however. They actually opened accounts in their current client’s names. So, it looked on paper as though Wells Fargo was achieving its revenue goals. The truth is otherwise.
When this charade was discovered it had incredible fallout. Lower line employees lost their jobs – thousands of them. And the trust their clients had was shattered. The leadership had abused the trust the clients, and employees, had invested in Wells Fargo as a company. That lost trust has negatively impacted the company for years. They have found it very difficult to regain the trust that was lost. A company trusted for over 150 years was suddenly the most distrusted bank in the world.
What happened? The leadership chose ‘results’ over customers. They decided to cheat the system to make it look like they were achieving the goals. They ‘earned’ bonuses. They sacrificed trust for personal gain. Sounds harsh, I know. There’s really no other way to say it. Front line employees lost their jobs while their bosses got bonuses. Customers were taken advantage of instead of treated with respect and care.
Now we see another bank being sued for the same practice. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is suing Fifth Third for opening accounts, including credit cards, that its customers didn’t know about or request. According to the complaint, Fifth Third bank focused on their own interested to the detriment of their customers.
The fallout from this loss of trust is immense. It is something that is difficult if not impossible to regain. It doesn’t only impact the customers. When customers leave, and it becomes hard to gain new customers, offices close and employees lose their jobs. I could go on to the community impact that comes from those outcomes.
Business success is built on trust; especially in this economic environment. All business decisions should be grounded in trust. In other words, begin with trust. Make your decisions in a way that create and confirm trust. It is those decisions that will provide sustainable growth and success.
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