Wells Fargo fires 5,300 employees

Maybe you heard last week’s story about Wells Fargo being fined $185 Million and firing 5,300 employees. That is an awful lot of bad employees, maybe something else is going on.
So, let me get this straight, Wells Fargo hired 5,300 criminals? That seems like a lot of bad people to get through the HR department. Maybe they were not criminals when hired, but became criminals while working for Wells Fargo. Why?
It seems odd that a bank that has a 37 page book on vision and values could have widespread unethical behavior. The investigation stated a culture that rewarded “sales at any cost” was the culprit. I would challenge them to ask one more “why?” and dig a little deeper. This is where we find the culture being shaped by how employees are measured and rewarded. The executive imposed metrics are the real root cause.
Wells Fargo executives fell into the same metrics trap that has existed for centuries…focusing too much on one metric. In this case, they wanted more! By rewarding employees for quantity, the other metrics like quality, cost, risk, compliance, and safety were ignored by employees and invisible to executives. Ask yourself – how would you behave in this environment?
Tell me how I’m being measured and I’ll tell you how I’m going to behave
The fix is a surprising simple concept; you want to change the culture, change how people are being measured. I don’t work at Wells Fargo but I would guess there are posters with vision statements and core values, not to mention the 37 page book of values. However, if the words don’t match the metrics, employees will smell the bull ___. Companies communicate to employees what is important by the metrics they hold them accountable for. Values being posted in the hallways is great…but serve no purpose if not aligned with the metrics.
Your actions speak so loudly I cannot hear what you say
Here is a free tip, the next time you find yourself looking to set an organizational goal, think about what metric will be used, then brainstorm all the UDEs (undesirable effects) that could develop based on that metric. Might save you some ass-pain later down the road.
9/13/16 UPDATE: The executive in charge of the section that committed fraud is on-tract to receive a $124 million bonus. What message is Wells Fargo sending to other executives and what behaviors do you think that will drive?