How do you make the case that people should save more without making it feel judgmental?
I start with the question, “What are you saving for?” Last year I asked that of our own employees, and it went viral internally. People told me their hopes and dreams. In our branches, employees put vision boards together in the break room that said, “What are you saving for?” And people had pictures of houses, and cars, and trips, and pools, and education. It’s a question that everyone will answer.
Did managing come naturally to you as you took on more responsibility?
Early in my career I learned that the mission is to establish relationships. The fact that a client had never had someone like me covering them didn’t matter — I still had to accomplish the mission. But I could do it in a way that was authentic to me, and that was comfortable to them.
I remember one client asked me, “T, you want to go hunting?” And I was like, “I am not going hunting. Y’all do not want me to go hunting. And I’m not going fishing. You’re not getting me in the middle of some water.” Then I said, “But I love sushi, and we can do sushi every Tuesday.”
And how did you navigate all that with your colleagues?
In 2008, Chase asked me to run home lending for the whole Northeast. And I said, “You know I’m pregnant. This is not like eating bonbons.” And my boss said, “Yeah, we know.” And I’m like, “And it’s going to be a scheduled C, so I’m going to be out for three months, because it’s my first child.” And he said, “O.K. Do you plan on coming back?” I said, “Yeah, I’m totally coming back.” And he said, “O.K.” I was six months pregnant, about to run the largest P&L in home lending, going to be out for three months, and he didn’t blink. He didn’t blink.
How did you learn how to manage these larger teams?
When I was named C.E.O. of Auto, within the first 90 days I went to the mail room, and I told them, “Keep doing your job with excellence. If you don’t put that payment in the right chute, and it accidentally goes to mortgage, then the customer doesn’t post on time, they’re upset, and they end up closing their account with us. But you started that process. So when you hear me talk about our customer experience having improved, brush your shoulders off.”
And they go, “You’re welcome. You know we got you.” At that moment I was able to connect them to Chase, to this bigger narrative. And now they know that T cares about everybody.
It sounds like you try to establish a really personal connection with your employees.
People need to know who you are. If they know who you are, and understand your intent, then when I am pushing the team and challenging them, they all line up and say, “Let’s go.”