Values Influence Culture, Leadership Style for Manager Lisa Powers
Lisa Powers, Senior Vice President, Manager of Account Operations, has been with Millennium Trust and its predecessor company for more than 28 years. She started as an entry-level account administrator when the firm consisted of only about 15 people. Now, managing five teams with more than 20 people, Lisa is one of nearly 70 people leaders who have been tasked with leading the firm’s adoption of Millennium Trust’s five values into their team’s daily work lives.
John Samaan, Senior Vice President, Head of Human Resources spoke with Lisa about how the firm’s culture has been influenced by those values, and what it means to the clients she has served for nearly three decades.
John Samaan (JS): What is the biggest change you’ve witnessed during your tenure at Millennium Trust?
Lisa Powers (LP): Most notable is how much we’ve grown. We had about 15 people when I started. Now, we’re at about 330! It’s been incredible to be part of this growth, and overwhelming at the same time. I really grew up here.
JS: Has that growth been a challenge?
LP: I used to know everyone at the company. There was a risk that we would lose that close, cohesive feeling. Happily, that’s not been the case. Leadership has been very steady, and Gary [Anetsberger, CEO] has brought in high quality people in HR, marketing, IT and other areas to support our growth.
JS: What steps has the firm taken to maintain that culture of cohesiveness and teamwork?
LP: Last year anyone who managed teams began formalized leadership training. It has helped the many different groups that make up Millennium Trust speak the same language. ‘Management 101’ is simply practicing the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. This leadership training is more like a graduate-level management course. I now have a toolbox I can use when faced with difficult conversations or challenging situations.
JS: How have you incorporated Millennium Trust’s values into your management style?
LP: As a team, we talked about what the values mean to us. One of the outcomes from that discussion was we wanted to market our work to other departments. We believed a greater understanding of our role would help us exceed our clients’ expectations –and bring ‘excel’ and ‘collaborate’ to life. From that, ‘A Day in the Life Of…’ training was born! In these sessions, we share what it is we do and how our work affects or is affected by other departments. We answer questions, and we can identify pain points that may help us find ways to simplify processes, ultimately improving the client experience.
JS: Are there any unexpected results from your leadership training?
LP: In our discussions about values, I’ve been able to make connections and experience breakthroughs with not just my immediate direct reports but also with those who don’t report to me. I’m able to show that I understand what it’s like to be in their shoes and that I’m willing to roll up my sleeves to help get done what’s needed. This greater understanding of each other – as people and in our roles – translates into a better client experience. Communication is more open. Ideas are more openly shared.
In fact, we now have more than 15 process improvement projects in the works. Most of these ideas came from our team members who feel comfortable – empowered – to offer them. It’s usually the little changes that make a big difference in streamlining our work, and this helps us improve our clients’ experience.
JS: Tell us how you live the value ‘celebrate?’
LP: At the beginning of the year we started celebrating birthdays – with cake of course – as an entire department, rather than individual teams. One of our teams recently thanked two employees who completed a process improvement project – ahead of its deadline – with a celebratory lunch. We also observed – with a pizza party – department promotions and new hires. Another team favorite was a pancake breakfast.
JS: What does it take to be successful at Millennium Trust?
LP: Be open to change! Things move quickly, and you don’t want to be someone who is ok with the status quo. This is a place where you can bring your ideas and suggestions and be heard. It’s a place where you can grow and develop in your profession. It all adds up to doing the right things for our clients.
The material in this blog is presented for informational purposes only. Millennium Trust Company performs the duties of a directed custodian, and as such does not sell investments or provide investment, legal or tax advice.