Washington Mutual doesn’t look at a person’s skill set or previous accomplishments when they’re looking for a new hire, instead WaMu looks for certain attitudes. They believe they can teach any necessary skills to people, but they cannot train people to have a good and positive attitude.
A big part of making sure employees have the right attitude to fit in with WaMu’s organizational culture is the type of personality each employee has. There are two popular ways of categorizing personality traits, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator [MBTI] and the Big Five Model. In terms of the MBTI, at first glance I thought extroverted people would be the best fit for WaMu, however after thinking about it a little more, I think introverted people might have a place at WaMu too. Bank tellers may have to be extroverted but perhaps support and technical employees might be better of being introverted. Another situation to consider, is if someone is extroverted, and are having a tough day, that will show up in their work. I would imagine that sensing people would be a much better fit at WaMu, both for the employee and for WaMu. Employees in WaMu banks would have to demonstrate patience with routine details such as customers depositing checks, and need to be good at precise work, for instance figuring out the interest on a customer’s loan or calculating end of day cash balances. Employees in the WaMu bank branches would also have to demonstrate feeling traits, as they would need to be able to analyze customers and decide on how to treat each customer. Some customers may be having a tough day and an employee with a high feeling trait would be able to pick up on that and show them that extra bit of sensitivity. It seems that both perceptive and judgmental people could fit in at WaMu. Flexible, adaptable and tolerant people will be needed to man the teller windows and deal with a wide variety of customers. Decisive, purposeful and exacting employees will be needed to help customers determine their financial plans, for instance help a customer figure out what the best mortgage would be for that customer.
From the Big Five Model, I’ve already touched upon the extroversion factor, but agreeableness and conscientiousness would be very important traits for someone who worked at a WaMu. The textbook states that emotional stability does not seem to affect employee performance as much as the other traits, however I think an emotionally stable person might fit in better at WaMu, as they’ll be able to stay calm when a customer is yelling in their face, and enthusiastic even when a huge line of customers builds up. These are crucial factors in having WaMu employees portray the friendly and inviting atmosphere WaMu uses as its’ competitive advantage.
An individual who is high in self-monitoring might be able to forego the above mentioned characteristics as long as they were able to adapt themselves to fit into WaMu’s culture, while they’re at work. I don’t think locus of control or self-esteem play as important a role as the other personality factors. People high in machiavellianism might be good at recruiting new employees or marketing the WaMu bank to obtain new customers.
Here’s how I think an employee attitude survey might look at WaMu:
For the following factors, please rate your position on a scale of 1 (Strongly disagree) to 5 (Strongly agree)
- I feel that I learn almost every day I’m at work.
- Customers sometimes create a hostile environment.
- I like my boss.
- My boss provides me feedback on how I’m doing my job.
- I usually have enough to do to keep me occupied and active.
- My WaMu branch is inviting and I look forward to walking in every work day.
- If given an offer for 10% more money at another company, I would take it.
- If I have a problem, I feel I can talk to my manager about it.
- I like the people on my team.
- I’m better than everyone on my team.
- Everyone here is exactly the same.
- I have fun at work.
- I feel I am respected and show everyone respect.
- I enjoy meeting new people.
- I feel my current position is a good description and fit for my current abilities.
This post is from an assignment for the Principles of Management class at Umass-Amherst.