From Apple to Starbucks, The Predictive Index CEO Mike Zani talked with Bank of the Pacific Corporate Trainer Tracy Ford on what he learned about managing people at these major corporations, strategic human capital challenges facing Bank of the Pacific and how they tackle them, and the importance of C-suite buy-in. Take a listen or read the full transcription of the interview below.
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Mike Zani: Hi, I’m Mike Zani. I’m the CEO of The Predictive Index. I have the great fortune to be here today with Tracy Ford. Tracy Ford is a corporate trainer for Bank of the Pacific. Now, he’s not your everyday corporate trainer. He brings a wealth of knowledge about culture and how companies work. His past experiences have been with Apple, at the founding and creation of one of the Apple stores, as well as formerly with Starbucks, both of those organizations very much known for their cultural acumen and using culture as a strategic advantage. Tracy’s also seen culture unravel, so brings that perspective.
Mike Zani: Bank of the Pacific, a community bank, like many community banks, is there for the people in the community, was founded I think 40-ish years ago. And when you read about Bank of the Pacific, it’s clear that they care about their people. As a quote from their CEO, “Employees are worth much more than the hours they work.” So they live and breathe it.
Mike Zani: Tracy Ford, I’d love to introduce you.
Tracy Ford: Hey. Thank you very much. Very nice to be here with you, Mike. And thanks for having me, really.
Mike Zani: No, it’s wonderful. I’d love you to tell us a little bit about the Bank of the Pacific, and more importantly, what are the strategic human capital challenges that you’re faced with from your perspective.
Tracy Ford: Yeah. So I’ve been here at the bank for just over a year and a half. And we’re a small community bank, as you mentioned, and we’re very much a part of what goes on in our community. With that, we do have our retail branches. We’ve seen all sorts of trouble in turnover. Not necessarily trouble, but a lot of turnover in our retail segment. It seems to be pretty difficult place to bring someone in and develop them further.
Tracy Ford: We’ve done a really nice job of keeping our people, long-term people. We have people who have been here for over 40 years, multiple people, which blows my mind. But as we bring people in, the growth opportunities aren’t necessarily right up front with them, so we haven’t done a great job of setting up the development for those individuals, and it’s cost us some talent along the way, which is unfortunate. We want to get ahead of that and make sure that we’re able to give them something to keep them engaged, keep them growing and developing, even when there’s not the next position available,], we want to continue to develop them to the point where they’re the best they can be not only for where they’re at, but where they want to be.
Mike Zani: So I understand you have, in the last few years have a new CEO, which came in with a different mandate. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Tracy Ford: Yeah. We have a very close relational environment here at the bank. We know everybody. There’s just over 250 of us, but everyone knows everybody. And as I mentioned, we’ve got some good tenure in the bank, as well. With that, about three years ago we brought in a new CEO, and she’s fantastic. She’s a go-getter and really, really growth-minded, which is exciting to see. It’s not just kind of getting by or maintaining; it’s really about moving forward, which is a little bit different for some people. So any time there’s change, there’s always change.
Mike Zani: Yeah, no question.
Tracy Ford: And to me, that’s the exciting part, especially as a trainer, being able to address that and help people kind of break through the barriers that are in their heads.
Mike Zani: Right. So how did that impact your role when the CEO came in? And I understand, was there a new CFO, as well?
Tracy Ford: Yeah. Actually, yes. And our CFO is the one who has previously used The Predictive Index that brought us down that path, which, we’re just new into this journey with The Predictive Index. We’re very excited about it.
Tracy Ford: But as far as impacting the training department, really, we were created in that time. We were created during our last CEO’s tenure, but have been given more and more resources to really become effective and given the freedom to try new things, to take a little more risk in what we’re doing. Things like The Predictive Index, for example, the way we intend to use that in training is using our Behavioral Assessments and using those patterns to know what type of class we want to do, how we want to approach an individual person or a group and really seeing what that dynamic will look like well before we’re sitting in a classroom thinking, “How do I get these people to talk?” or “How do I get them to be quiet?” Whatever it is, we can know that walking in. And I mean, it’s a resource for us to really look ahead and to see some of the things that we could have never seen before. And that’s one example of us being able to take that next step in that race.
Mike Zani: That’s a fantastic example. You’ve reminded me of a story. I used to be a professional sailing coach and I coached at the ’96 Olympics. And I brought my very American style to Japan for two weeks, and in The Predictive Index vernacular, they’re very High C, High D, very formal, very processed and patient. And I brought this American, “Let’s go” informal style, and people were just looking at me with wide eyes, blinking, going, “What do I do with this instructor?” If you took your lesson, I really should have modified my style considerably for the audience.
Mike Zani: So I wish you luck with that. That’s a great use case.
Tracy Ford: It’s a fantastic advantage as a trainer to know what your classroom’s going to look like ahead of time. That’s unheard of. So I’m excited.
Mike Zani: Do you modify onboarding with employees based on what you’ve learned in the hiring and selection process?
Tracy Ford: That’s what we’re starting to implement. So we’ve used a personality test called The Best Test, and we have them take that in class and we go through kind of their personalities, that sort of thing. We’re going to be replacing that with The Predictive Index, and part of our recruiting and hiring process with the application is the assessment, so everyone that we bring in will have already taken the assessment, obviously. So we’ll be able to, one, know, again, what the room’s going to look like. There’s no surprises, there’s no pulling teeth, there’s no … I mean, that hurdle is taken. But the next piece is we’re going to do a deeper dive. Where we spent time in The Best Test, we’re now going to spend that time really talking through each person’s individual characteristics and their behaviors so that we can really get to know them on a better level.
Tracy Ford: And then also, I mean, there’s so much more information that their managers are going to have now.
Mike Zani: On day one, yeah.
Tracy Ford: Yeah. Just even how they want their desk set up. What are they going to do? Do you take them to lunch or are they a little more reserved and maybe … or maybe they want public praise. Those are things we’re talking about doing and catering it specifically to each individual.
Mike Zani: There’s an easy way to do this, actually. You cater to the high strive or drives, so with High A, which is high dominance, you let them design their onboarding. So you can say, “Here are the things you need to accomplish. In what order would you like to attack it?”
Tracy Ford: That’s good.
Mike Zani: High B, which is extroversion, they need to talk through it with people, so you set up a lot of meetings, small group, one-on-ones, lunch meetings. They want to hear the goals.
Mike Zani: C, it’s a longer process. That’s high patience. They need time. They want it structured. You build in learning time between meetings so they can collect their thoughts.
Mike Zani: High D, manage their expectations, what is perfect, what are the rules, what are the processes, and really let them know. They want to know, “What’s perfect? Because I want to be on the other side of it. I want to be better than perfect.”
Tracy Ford: Right.
Mike Zani: And if you have High A and D, you do both. High B and C, you do both. And it’s not a lot more complicated than that.
Tracy Ford: Wow, that sounds awesome.
Mike Zani: It’s easy for someone like you to implement, yeah.
Tracy Ford: Right. That’s great.
Mike Zani: So tell us your story about Apple, about founding an Apple store and being involved with that process and then seeing that magic sort of change.
Tracy Ford: Yeah. So when I joined Apple, I was joining with the purpose of opening a new store. And it was honestly a brand new team, top to bottom, so it was a very, very unique experience. We started with training, and we spent about two weeks every minute with people I didn’t really know that well. And then we got back and I knew them pretty well.
Tracy Ford: Then we went through the hiring process, hired the entire staffed. Certainly could have used some insight with The Predictive Index during that endeavor. But, I mean, it did create some really good conversation, some push, some pull, and some butting heads along the way, which really does sometimes strengthen a team.
Tracy Ford: And what we went through, after we hired, set up the store, we had our store opening launch, which, about 1,000 people lined up just to come in for the first day. Then we had the iPhone 4 launch a month later, and it was-
Mike Zani: Huge, yeah.
Tracy Ford: 1,600 people waiting in line overnight just to get their phone. And it was nonstop from the day we went to training to … and that was, let’s see, March through August. I mean, we were putting in 16-hour days. And I remember thinking, going home at the end of the night after just an exhausting, long day where I’ve just given everything, and thinking, “I get to do this again tomorrow.” There was just such a camaraderie and such a drive with everybody, it was fantastic.
Tracy Ford: But, as with anything, things change. We saw some of our personnel, one of the managers who was in that initial phase, was no longer with us. And that little shake in the armor, that little crack, really started something that I did not see coming. It began the spiral from there. People didn’t trust each other. The person next to you, you didn’t trust what they were saying, because there were so many things that were just up in the air. We had someone let go on the leadership team. And I mean, it just, it turned from probably the greatest environment I’ve ever had into definitely the most hostile I’ve ever had.
Mike Zani: Really? In what time frame?
Tracy Ford: In less than a year.
Mike Zani: Well, retail’s time scales are crazy fast.
Tracy Ford: Well, and I say less than a year. It’s really more like six months. It was from about August until I’d say March the next year. It was a completely different environment. And bringing in new people who weren’t there for that initial … you know, you pour everything out, you get to know everything about those around you. They know you. They trust you. Well, you bring one person in that didn’t have all that, and the trust is gone. It’s not like, “Oh, we have to now build it with this person.” It’s, “No, it’s gone across the board.” And it’s so valuable to be able to trust. Without a foundation, trust-
Mike Zani: It’s over, yeah. And actually, we have seen some of our clients try and use behavioral insights into building trust, because I want to speak to you, so if you and I are working together, understanding that I care about you the person. So I know that you’re high patience, because I’ve looked at your behavioral pattern before we met, and knowing that you really value listening. So if we have a sit-down and I hear you out, that’s important to you. And using those need-based elements to help.
Mike Zani: So given that, what did you bring from your really valuable lessons at Apple with you to Bank of the Pacific in this new endeavor?
Tracy Ford: Yeah. With the kind of understanding of trust can take ages to build and seconds to crumble. Just I mean, honestly, that idea, it makes me a little more hesitant to dive into something, but at the same time, it makes me lot more strategic in how I want to build. I understand the foundation built at Apple was fairly surface. It wasn’t all that foundational. We got to know each other on a personal level, but it didn’t go into, “I absolutely trust you.” I just knew what you were saying and what you meant when you said it. That’s not necessarily trust.
Tracy Ford: And so really building something that says, “What I say is what I mean and I want to do the best that I can to communicate everything that I’m thinking, I want you to know I don’t want there to be surprises.” And when you try and eliminate those surprises, and you never will eliminate them all, the better you are. And that’s where any advantage I can get on who somebody is, what they value, what they’re bringing to a situation, then I can now have a more strategic approach to what they need and what I need, what the organization needs, moving forward.
Tracy Ford: And I mean, what’s what I’d say is the most that I took from that.
Mike Zani: That’s great. And you’re trying to weave that message into all of your learning development and training opportunities?
Tracy Ford: Yes.
Mike Zani: So do you do all the training for the whole 250?
Tracy Ford: I do not. We have a retail trainer, and then I do more of the leadership training.
Mike Zani: Oh, that’s great. That’s wonderful. And do you co-facilitate with the retail trainer, ever?
Tracy Ford: Sometimes. He’s newer in position, so we haven’t had the opportunity too much, but just kind of meeting in the same class together to kind of bounce off each other. But we haven’t done a full co-facilitation, which I am excited for. He’s a fun guy to work with.
Mike Zani: Right. Any advice for our audience on if you had to do this again, what would you do differently?
Tracy Ford: Ooh, man. If I had to do this again, try and fill the blind spots as best you can. Know what you’re walking into before you walk into it. I know I walked pretty blindly into too many situations, and really, I trusted where I shouldn’t and I didn’t trust where I should. And I’d say if I were to do it all again, that would be my approach is to understand who people are as opposed to what they project they are.
Mike Zani: Okay, great. Thank you for sharing.
Mike Zani: Closing question. Do you have a favorite read for HR professionals that you’d recommend?
Tracy Ford: I’d say my favorite read would be Creating Magic, by Lee Cockerell. He was one of the executives of Walt Disney World. Huge Disney nerd. Just a side note. But I really enjoy what they do there, the environment they create, and they’ve kind of got things down. Of course, nobody’s perfect, but the way he describes things in the book, the journey that he went on, really fascinating. I’ve read it a couple of times. I’ve suggested it a number of times.
Mike Zani: That’s great.
Tracy Ford: That would be my favorite read.
Mike Zani: I’ll add it to my list. I get the footnote. I know a Disney consultant, and the whole work there is fabulous. So thanks for sharing that.
Tracy Ford: Excellent. Thank you.
Mike Zani: Great. Well, Tracy, appreciate your insights. Best of luck in your endeavors at Bank of the Pacific, and we look forward to speaking again.
Tracy Ford: Thank you, Mike. Very nice to talk with you.