September 6, 2011

Case Study: Tim Hockey, a Collaborative & Transparent CEO

I don’t own their shares.

I have never worked for the company.

I’m not aware of anyone within my strong or weak tie network that actually holds a position there either.

The company I am referring to is TD Canada Trust.

The CEO I’d like to highlight is Tim Hockey.

Bottom line? He gets it. 

Tim (may I call you Tim?) serves as Chief Executive Officer and President of TD Canada Trust of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. He also serves as its Group Head of Canadian Banking and Insurance and as the Group Head of personal banking of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

That’s a lot of roles but hopefully one day he can squeeze me in for a beer or a lunch. I’d even wash his car for the chance to get to know him. (and I hate cars)

Why does he get it?

Over at the Financial Post, writer Mary Teresa Bitti recently interviewed Tim about its commitment to customer satisfaction. As an aside, TD Canada Trust, for the sixth consecutive year, was ranked by J.D. Power and Associates tops among Canadian banks for its commitment to customer service.

Tim believes there is a direct relationship between customer service excellence, culture and collaboration.

Tim believes it’s a strategic differentiator.

He had me at hello.

But this is where things get really interesting.

In their internal communication blog, they openly write about “wow moments” and “moments of truth”. That is, employees are encouraged to open up about the good and not-so-good stories about customer service such that everyone can learn from the experiences.

Tim believes that ‘culture is everything’ when it comes to an organization. Not only does everyone in the company have a portion of their compensation tied directly to customer satisfaction, the man himself is a poster boy for transparency.

For example, after making what he refers to as a “bad decision”‘ and receiving numerous complaints and feedback about it, he reversed the decision the next day and openly blogged about it on their internal communication blog platform apologizing, and making things right again.

He even called the blog post, “What Was I Thinking?”

There are a few things to dissect here:

  1. an open and transparent culture can in fact equate to a high performing customer first employee base
  2. collaboration tools can be used to help push a “culture of collaboration” as well as a “culture of transparency” as is evident by Tim’s mea culpa blogging example
  3. CEO’s don’t have to hide behind ghost writers, executive assistants or time constraint excuses. By advocating a culture that is open, transparent, collaborative, thoughtful and engaged, and by being humble, companies can become a truly professional playground of high engagement through the exemplary modeling of its CEO … that then leads to overall customer excellence.

Much of what Tim and his team are doing translates to a few models I’ve put forward including the TEAM construct, the Collaboration Cycle as well as the SuperExecutive tenets.

I’ve said it a million times, one cannot change or augment a company’s culture simply by adding collaboration tools to the ecosystem. Behaviour change trumps all.

Tim said it best,

“our employee brand is our customer brand. Nobody wants to work in an organization where all they hear is do this, do that. They want to know why and have a voice.”

I only wish I have the chance to meet up with him at some point and talk shop.

Car wash included.

P.S. Visit this short 50 second video where Tim discusses the WOW moments.

5 Replies to “Case Study: Tim Hockey, a Collaborative & Transparent CEO”

  1. This is awesome. I really appreciate you sharing the “real world” examples of successful, social, collaborative workplaces. This seems like such an emerging discussion that it’s easy to get lost in talking about the ideas without having a clear grasp of what a successful implementation would look like. I would love to hear more about how Canada Trust promulgates this culture from the CEO on down!

    Also, I absolutely love the idea of a CEO openly saying “What was I thinking?”. That kind of transparency really breeds trust.

  2. Great to see this article. Even better to see that the changes Tim sought to make and the importance of culture he emphasizes are reality at TDBFG. Bully for TDCT for ensuring Tim is the guy to lead them going forward. Had the privelage of working with him many years ago and he was a game changer then already.

  3. Transparency and accountability are contagious in many ways. A CEO’s influence and reach within his work family is vital for an effective brand representation. The branch workers can see for themselves that when clients come first, this ensures loyalty and positive experiences overall, the returns go far more than just profit. Considering nonprofit actions during business transactions provide a more balanced and memorable interaction, where the effects are memorable, for everyone. Here begins the client word of mouth (face to face or net based ) on positive brand effect and branch recommendation, thanks to positive connections and simple gestures, demonstrating the ripple affect of a leader’s simple thought and gesture.

  4. @Kelly – thanks, I’ll be sharing more of these in this space over the next few months

    @Steve – wow, you got the chance to work with Tim? We really need to meet F2F one day

    @Ralph – totally agree about the ripple effect you make mention of.

    @Tim – thanks for dropping by. Kudos on your leadership style. I’ll trade you the car wash for a bike ride, how ’bout that?

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