Can Bankers Change?

What does the continued problem with how our biggest banks are run teach us about change management?

The Atlantic published an excellent article about the banking industry – see:

The question asked is – can bankers behave?  The answer is obviously yes, but the structure of certain banks makes that change very very hard.

The article is ultimately a story about ethical habit formation and how change occurs. What I want to discuss here is the part of the article that focuses on the CEO of Morgan Stanley, James Gorman.

While we can debate the merits of the changes made at Morgan Stanley, what isn’t debatable is that Gorman was successful at making the changes he wanted to make.

Why was he successful when so many people struggle to create change within their organizations?  His attitude was if you don’t like the changes – leave. If you want to work at a hedge fund – do it – our core business is that we are a bank. And people did leave. And that was ok.

The mistake that managers wanting to create change make is in thinking – they have to make people change. The reality is that not everyone will change. Not everyone wants to. It’s ok if they don’t; they just need to find employment elsewhere if the fit is no longer good for them.

Change is hard. People resist it. That is normal. It’s a process that takes place over time and you will have early adopters and once the change is proven to work, mass adoption. And, there will be some holdouts that refuse to change. Sometimes you can drag them along kicking and screaming and they will become your biggest advocates. And sometimes, you just need to let them find employment that is better suited to them.

Accepting that you can’t be everything to everyone takes courage.  It takes courage to stand by your core mission as an organization. This is especially important if your corporate culture has allowed unethical behavior to propagate. Changing the culture to promote ethical behavior means, some people will have to go. Never allow people who want to be unethical to steer you off course and keep you from creating the positive social change you know is right.

FYI -  discuss the change management process in detail and how to use behavioral psychology to help this process along, paying specific attention to resistance to change, which in the behavioral model is considered an extinction burst and it’s predicted. Understand why and how that resistance will help you manage it when it occurs. (See:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...