Banco Popular: Connecting a Workforce to Learning

Banco Popular North America began its tradition of providing banking services to the under-served in Puerto Rico in 1893. Now, Banco Popular has approximately 2,000 employees in California, Florida, Illinois, […]

Banco Popular North America began its tradition of providing banking services to the under-served in Puerto Rico in 1893. Now, Banco Popular has approximately 2,000 employees in California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas. These “DreamMakers” bring the organization’s shared values and agreements to life for its customers.

“Shared agreements represent what people might call our ‘company goals’”, said Cora Quisumbing-King, vice president and manager of learning and leadership, Banco Popular. “But there is a difference when you say ‘goals’ versus ‘shared agreements,’ because the process clearly emphasizes the importance of alignment, of commitment, of going back to the people, soliciting their interest and engagement to our goals.”

These shared agreements form four pillars at Banco Popular: people, community, customers and financial performance. These, along with the company’s values, are the cornerstones around which the organization inspires employee engagement. “Our organization really prides itself on customer intimacy,” Quisumbing-King said. “We need to model that internally, and this is why employee engagement is very important. We strongly believe that if we work with our people, if our people are engaged, if our people are satisfied, that brings or influences customer satisfaction.”

Banco Popular’s focus on learning and leadership took on a stronger focus with Quisumbing-King’s arrival in 2003. Efforts are now targeted to include functional and technical training, management and leadership development and talent management processes, as well as development of core competencies around customer intimacy, planning and achieving results, and collaboration and teamwork.

Curricula have been established for each job function in the community banking group, where around 80 percent of learning dollars are earmarked to ensure that employees have the tools and support needed to enhance their skills and development. Other Banco Popular departments, such as compliance, operations and legal, act as learning partners to provide specialized training in their respective areas. Department management teams collaborate to create departmental development plans, which create transparency of expectations and guide individual development.

While Banco Popular has embraced online and video learning methodologies to bring learning to its staff, the primary delivery method is the classroom. “A lot of training—especially for our front-line individuals, particularly when they are new hires—is face-to-face training. It’s very important for us to have direct interaction with our DreamMakers to ensure that key customer intimacy skills are provided,” Quisumbing-King said.

Banco Popular is building online training programs for sales and service bankers, customer care representatives and tellers, and also is implementing the standards needed to measure the fruits of this labor. “We took some benchmark feedback from our customer care center,” said Lynn S. Crawford, program manager, Banco Popular. “We did a customer survey, and we also have an information technology help desk that got a lot of questions from the branches. We launched the training in the fall, and they’re going to collect statistics for us to let us know if we’ve climbed up a learning curve. We also partner with sales and marketing to provide product training, and we’ll be looking forward to the updated sales numbers to measure our performance.”

This multi-pronged benchmarking, data-gathering and processing procedure is typical of Learning & Leadership’s design, development and evaluation methods, and while Crawford said it’s too early for hard numbers, anecdotal evidence points to learning success. “We’re seeing the birth of a quality set of training values,” Crawford said. “We talk to our folks, and there is a sense that people are more knowledgeable, less dependent on their managers or the help desk.”

“Banco Popular employees—our DreamMakers—are very satisfied with the training we offer,” Quisumbing-King said. “We introduced an effective management practices program for our managers and supervisors in late 2003, and we just finished a follow- up study. The majority of the participants were able to do something in terms of applying their learning. Whether it was around delegating, communicating to adjust to the style of the individual, doing better performance management or really understanding how teams develop and grow, a lot of them said they were able to apply their learning right away. That’s very encouraging for us.”

–Kellye Whitney,

June 2005 Table of Contents