Mike responded “Honestly, it started off as the worst thing.
When asked, “What’s it like to have the BBC tear your team to shreds on national television?” Mike responded “Honestly, it started off as the worst thing that’s ever happened in my life. Then, it turned into the greatest gift I’ve ever received.”
It’s 2007 and Barclays Bank has just hired Mike Amato to lead a team of 30,000 employees across the UK. As Mike is packing his briefcase to head home for the weekend, his direct line rings. It’s a producer from the BBC. The producer informs Mike that for the past year and a half, the BBC had embedded three undercover reporters at Barclays. They have notes, audio, and video of various meetings, client interactions, and embarrassing faux pas at the bank…
…and all of it is going to be aired over the weekend on the BBC’s popular Whistle blower program this weekend.
The exposé was bitter medicine. It was brutal for everyone involved, especially for those who were secretly filmed.
But it also forced Mike and Barclays to confront an uncomfortable reality: the bank had lost its way. They were so consumed with short-term financial performance that their culture, values, and integrity were falling apart. Without meaning to the bank created a toxic environment for its customers and employees and everything was laid bare on national television. However, this ended up being one of Mike’s – and the bank’s – greatest gifts.
Drawing on over 25 years of experience, Mike knew that his first order of business after the exposé was to focus on rebuilding corporate culture and grounding the bank in its values. He shifted the bank’s focus from short-term financial output to becoming a purpose-lead organization. He became obsessed with creating a culture of empowerment for his team and delighting the bank’s customers.
The nine month transformation was one of the largest in banking history:
● Overall employee engagement grew from 64% to 92%
● Output among customer facing teams grew by 244%
● Compliance scores, audit scores, and union relations ALL improved
● And net profitability outperformed targets by 125%