Updated: Nov 15, 2020
*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!
HOPE AND ENCOURAGEMENT
“Just look at that corner office… It’s like a never-ending stream of people in and out of there!” The CEO tilted his head in curiosity. “Does this branch have a promotion going on that I’m not aware of?”
Tossing a quick glance over his shoulder, the City Executive over the branch shook his head. “No, that’s Reggie’s office.”
“Reggie? Who exactly is Reggie? How long has he been with the company? Most importantly, why are people constantly going in and out of his office?” The CEO’s face was masked of all emotion. “I’ve been watching the lobby from the observation cameras for a couple of hours today, and I am just amazed at the comings and goings to and from his office. When does he get any work done?”
“Mr. Hawkins,” the City Executive began quietly, “exactly which question did you want me to answer first?”
Mr. Hawkins gave him a sharp look before responding tersely, “Just start at the top, Robbins.”
“Reggie Miller has been with the company for about ten years now. He typically comes in a little earlier and stays a little later to get his work completed just because of what you have noticed today. His work ethic is excellent; our customers and employees absolutely love and depend on him.”
Mr. Hawkins scrutinized the corner office in suspicion. “So, what’s he peddling in there?”
“Peddling, sir?” Mr. Robbins’ eyebrows twitched slightly.
“Yeah, you know,” Mr. Hawkins eyes shifted back to pierce Mr. Robbins’, “something has got to be going on for all of those people to be going in and out of there.” He scoffed slightly before continuing, “What, does he approve a loan just because someone can breathe?”
Mr. Robbins shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “No, sir, his approval and decline ratios are right in line with our standards. In fact, his decline rate is a little higher as he is known throughout the community as a banker that tries to help.”
Mr. Hawkins stroked his chin with the back of this thumb. “I think I want to have our auditors review his loan portfolio, just to make sure nothing is going on. As you know, I have a fiduciary responsibility to our Board of Directors and shareholders.”
“If you feel that is necessary, that’s your call, sir.” Mr. Robbins replied. “If you would like, I’ll be glad to forward you the external loan reviews and audits which were completed prior to our bank being acquired by your bank.”
“No need. I want a fresh set of eyes on his portfolio.”
“Sir,” Mr. Robbins interjected, “would you like to meet Reggie?”
Somewhat taken aback by the question, Mr. Hawkins was silent for a few long seconds. Clearing his throat, “Well, I guess I can spare a few minutes. Let’s become part of the revolving door to his office.”
Being an expert in body language, Jim Robbins immediately observed that Walter Hawkins was way outside of his comfort zone. As with many CEO’s, he was sure Mr. Hawkins was more at home sitting in a large chair in a boardroom than treading where the rubber meets the road.
Strolling down to the main lobby, Mr. Robbins smiled and said, “Mr. Hawkins, you’re really going to like Reggie. He is great.”
“I am sure,” came the stiff reply.
Knocking on the door frame before entering, Mr. Robbins said, “Reggie! Good morning. I have someone that I would like for you to meet.” Reggie immediately looked up from his computer and stood, preparing to extend his hand. “Reggie Miller, please meet our CEO, Mr. Walter Hawkins.”
Smiling, Reggie stepped around his desk to shake the staunch CEO’s hand. “Mr. Hawkins, good morning, so nice to finally meet you.”
“Good to meet you, Mr. Miller,” Mr. Hawkins replied stiffly.
“Reggie,” Mr. Robbins began, motioning to the two chairs positioned in front of his desk, “do you have time for us to ‘kick the tires’ this morning?”
“Are you kidding?” Reggie lowered back down into his chair. “My time is your time. Please, have a seat.” As Mr. Robbins turned to close the door, Reggie interjected softly, “Jim, you know if you do that, everyone out there is going to think something is up.”
“You’re right, I forgot about your open door policy,” Mr. Robbins chuckled before motioning for Mr. Hawkins to take a seat.
“Open door policy?” the CEO questioned as he sat down. “What is that?”
“It’s my policy that any employee or customer can see me at any time as long as I don’t already have someone in my office,” Reggie stated.
Mr. Hawkins leaned forward. “What if they need to discuss something of a confidential nature?”
“If that’s the case, we move to one of the conference rooms where we are not sitting in a fish bowl.” Reggie nodded toward the windows of his office facing the interior of the lobby. “You know, sometimes people can get animated, especially if the topic of conversation is near and dear to them.”
The CEO nodded, intently studying Reggie Miller.
After partaking in a little small talk including education, work experience, family, the community, and the newly merged bank’s mission statement, Mr. Hawkins finally worked his way around to what was truly on his mind – the steady stream of people in and out of Reggie’s office. Mr. Robbins sat back and became a fly on the office wall.
“Mr. Miller,” he began, “in my thirty years of banking, I have never seen anything quite like what I have witnessed today. I have been here for several hours and your office is akin to Black Friday…people are just about busting down the door to see you. Some stay five minutes, some ten, some fifteen, and some longer. What do you attribute this to? I’m thinking I need to bottle part of you to take and share with the rest of our offices.”
Reggie grinned. “Well, I have been here ten years. I’m known throughout the community and am a good listener.”
“I’m certain that is part of it,” Mr. Hawkins nodded, “but that surely is not all of it. Banking 101 is listening, that is basic, and we have plenty of loan officers, also good listeners, in our company that have been in their specific location much longer than ten years. I can tell you none of them have this kind of activity.” His head shook in bewilderment before he added, “I’ve just never seen anything like this before.”
Reggie thought for a moment before offering a solution to the question plaguing the CEO.
“Maybe it’s because I offer them more than money.”
“What exactly do you mean by that?” Mr. Hawkins balked. “We are a bank – money is all we can offer.”
“Yes, but our customers are much more than just a number or quota. I care about the person behind the banking relationship. I want to help them. I want to help them to be personally successful. I want to help th