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Maier’s Approach in Citibank’s Performance Session Case Study

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Updated: Aug 8th, 2020

Maier’s approach

I would take Maier’s approach in my performance session with James McGaran. Maier’s approach creates a friendly environment on which negative feedback can be released. It incorporates the Welchs’ view that “most employees believe they are unusually high performers” (Welch & Welch 2014a, p. 3). The belief requires that one starts with the worker’s strength because it would be easier to agree on areas of high performance. Maier’s approach requires that one starts with common things (Welch & Welch 2014b, p. 5).

I would take the “other shoe” technique where I start by approving all the exceptional performance indicators before ending with the poor performance (see Appendix A). Employees are likely to pass the blame on someone superior or failure of the system. In McGaran’s case, he would like to blame poor performance in customer satisfaction on factors that are out of his control such as ATMs (Davila & Simons 1997, p. 4).

The first step in Maier’s approach is “mutual identification of the problem” (Welch & Welch 2014a, p. 3). Shifting directly to the problem may give McGaran the impression that good performance is overlooked. It may also show that the firm focuses more on poor performance. It will be necessary to start with McGaran’s exceptional performance before shifting to finding the problem according to Maier’s approach.

We would start with the best part which is financial performance. I would congratulate him for exceptional performance. I would not fail to mention that his financial performance is unmatched by any other branch in the company. It can be seen in the 2nd quarter when his profit margin was 53% ahead of the closest Citibank branch (Davila & Simons 1997, p. 7).

The next point to mention is his impact on people. It is the second-best performance of the individual. I would mention it as the second point because the rating depends upon my observation (Davila & Simons 1997, p. 3). It would give McGaran confidence that I do not contend with his high performance. It is the first step in Maier’s approach. The positive viewpoints from his team and low employee turnover would be some of the points I would use as back up.

Controls will be the third to consider because it is the third-best performance of the individual. Control is third-best because its exceptional performance is relative to the size and complexity of the customer base (Davila & Simons 1997, p. 7). When it is compared with other branches it may not be exceptional. The most important part is that he met the goals, either 4 out of 4 or 5 out of 5, in all the three occasions that were evaluated.

The next part to consider is standards. McGaran leadership style is exemplary. I would use descriptions that show that his leadership style has been a model for others.

Strategy implementation shows good performance. However, it has components within it that have not been consistent. I would use the fluctuations in household growth as the main indicator. Strategy implementation should be mentioned fourth. The last part to consider is customer satisfaction. McGaran has performed far much below the company’s average on many occasions (Davila & Simons 1997, p. 6-9). This is the point where Maier’s approach is fully integrated to reduce the impact of negative feedback.

The five parts have taken the order in which they can be ranked best. Financial performance cannot be disputed because it is quantitative, and has qualitative components of branch competitiveness. Standards and people components are partly subjective.

Application of Maier’s approach to customer satisfaction

The focus of Maier’s approach will be on customer satisfaction. Mutual identification of the problem will take the first part. Firstly, we would agree that he underperformed on customer satisfaction. McGaran already agrees through the case study that he underperformed on the component. McGaran consideration was that the system contributed to his poor performance (Davila & Simons 1997, p. 4). In this part, I would use Citibank’s average on customer satisfaction to show that he has been rated against those who use the same system he was complaining about. Citibank’s average is 77 points when his branch’s average is 64 (Davila & Simons 1997, p. 4). I would listen to his explanation on this point before coming to the agreement that he operates in a more sophisticated customer base than most of the branches.

The next step on Maier’s approach is “proposing rather than taking a fixed action” (Welch & Welch 2014b, p. 4). I would present the data for the four quarters in the order in which they appear (66, 63, 54, and 72 points). I would wait for him to explain the wide fluctuations. I would propose that he should maintain an upward trend. I would also base my future evaluations on improvement despite his ratings appearing below the company’s average. Maier required that the views of the employee be incorporated in the final report. In this case, the report has already been filed. However, the employee can be reassured that his opinion will be incorporated in future evaluations which may include extra points for making improvements in a more sophisticated customer base.

The third procedure in Maier’s approach is free and open communication (Welch & Welch 2014b, p. 4). I would request that McGaran point out some of the things the company failed to do that undermined his performance. I would also ask him to identify things that the company can change in the coming financial year and those that can only be changed in the long-term. The last question aims to find out things that the company can change outright to improve the branch’s performance.

The last part will be to discuss his overall rating. It should be well known to him based on the company’s guidelines on overall ratings.

Improving Citibank performance evaluation system

The company can improve the performance evaluation process by including a performance development component (Welch & Welch 2014a, p. 2). The program is to improve skills that have failed to improve such as customer service in McGaran’s branch. They could learn what branches with high performance are doing to have high customer satisfaction ratings. Experts could also be invited to give their views. The company can have reviews on making future improvements on a separate day from the evaluation.

The firm has applied 4 out of the 5 rules discussed in lecture 1 (Welch & Welch 2014a, p. 2-5). It indicates Citibank has a good performance evaluation system.

Reference List

Davila, A & Simons, R 1997, Citibank: Performance evaluation, Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston.

Welch, J & Welch, S 2014a, ‘JWI 520: The essential Art (and Science) of performance evaluations 2014 Week4: Lecture 1’.

Welch, J & Welch, S 2014b, ‘JWI 520: How to give constructive, candid performance feedback Week 4: Lecture 2’.


Appendix A

Exhibit 1 James McGaran’s Year-End Evaluation Form.

Below Par Par Above Par Year End Performance Assessment
Financial Total Above Plan Above par McGaran’s branch has consistently met the goals set for the profit margin and revenues in all the four quarters. The overall performance shows that the firm has done well in creating wealth for the company better than all the other branches. It is an exceptional performance. Expenses may have slightly exceeded the limits set, but it is expected for increased operational activities aimed at increasing revenues.
Revenue $6M $604,933
Expense $1.7M $88,460
Margin $4.3M $693,393
Strategy Implementation Above par McGaran has performed above par in all the three quarters except the first quarter. He has maintained the market share at 1.8% in a highly competitive base. There is growth in the total household. However, the number of additional new households has declined.
Customer Satisfaction Below par .
Customer satisfaction has been an area of concern in McGaran’s performance. It declined in the 2ndand 3rdquarters despite having very low points. The company’s average is 77 points when McGaran’s branch reported 66, 63, 54, and 72 in their correct order. It gives an average of 64 which is far much below Citibank’s average. McGaran team appears to have found a way of satisfying customers as shown in the last quarter. It indicates an improvement of 18 points across two quarters. It is an exceptional improvement.
Control Above par McGaran’s branch shows exceptional performance in most of the quarters despite the size and complexity of his branch. He has met the goals set for control in all the three quarters that were reviewed.
Oper Loss $81,960
Fraud Loss $55,920
People Above par McGaran has scored above par in all the four quarters which is a clear justification for high ratings. He has supported daily focus on enhancing his team’s performance. He coaches his team and offers them opportunities for training such as Citi Source training programs. His pursuit of an MBA degree is a good indication of personal development and training. Employee satisfaction is high based on low employee turnover and positive viewpoints. His team performs at their highest potential.
Performance Management, Teamwork, Training,
Employee Satisfaction
Standards Above par McGaran has scored above par in all the four quarters on standards. He has built a reputation as one of the finest managers in California. Some of his practices on team building and daily goals have been used as a reference point by other groups. His team is involved with community groups to a large extent. He also performs well despite constraints which are a justification for his exceptional performance. He interacts professionally with his group. Customer interaction and focus is the only component lagging on this measure.
Leadership, Bus. Ethics/Integrity, Customer
Interaction/Focus, Community Involvement,
Contribution to Overall Business
Overall Evaluation Par Overall ratings deserve a par because of the low points garnered from customer satisfaction. The guidelines state that an overall rating of above par has to have at least ‘par ratings’ in all the components. McGaran has done exceptionally well in all areas except for customer satisfaction. The improvement in customer satisfaction in the last quarter shows that the above par ratings are achievable.
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