Wednesday, 01 January 2014 19:53

Hole-in-One Preparation: Golf and Bank-Teller Training

Written by Rita Johnson

At Fort Knox Federal Credit Union, we train tellers how to correctly process deposits, withdrawals, loan payments, and many other financial transactions. In addition, trainees are required to focus on customer needs, not on meeting a quota, and our training sessions stress this.

As I watched my son prepare for a college golf tournament, I noted a number of similarities between golfing and teller training at work. I had seen my son prepare for tournaments on numerous occasions and had noticed his consistent routine, as well as his attention to detail in preparing for a round of golf. His dedication called to mind the continuing focus on the details that make up superior member service in the credit union world.

And just as any good round of golf starts long before the golfer approaches the first tee, training and preparation are just as important in delivering superior member service. To help me draw the comparisons more directly, I asked my son to share with me his pre-round routine.

Golf game preparation

Step 1: The night before a round of golf, my son cleans the club heads to ensure a debris-free surface. Golfers (or caddies) also clean a club’s head between shots before putting it back in the bag so the club is ready for another use if and when needed.

Step 2: Next, my son scrubs down the grips to remove any oils that may cause the club to slip during the swing.

Step 3: He also marks the golf balls with a permanent marker to assist in identifying his golf ball from a competitor’s, which might be in close proximity or in a hazard.

Step 4: Then he cleans his shoes and replaces any cleats that may have broken.

Step 5: Lastly, he counts the number of clubs in the bag and places the clubs in the bag in an orderly manner.

Teller training

Step 1: A few days before a new employee’s first day, we send a letter that includes the time and place to arrive, which identification records to bring, the recommended style of dress, a training calendar, and a few other miscellaneous topics.

Step 2: Besides covering the basic new employee paperwork, we also cover the history of our industry and our particular financial institution. Over the past few years, Fort Knox Federal Credit Union has continually been selected one of the best financial institutions in our area and our financial soundness and strength in our industry ranks very high. We explain what makes our products and services better compared to our competition.

Step 3: To identify ourselves as individuals, members of a new teller class share information on their personal work histories, education, family, and hobbies. Occasionally, new hires’ interests or paths have followed in similar directions.

Step 4: Some new hires have worked as tellers before and some have experience with the teller software that we use. Each new teller receives a teller manual and all are encouraged to record their notes in the manual as they learn about our software.

Step 5: To make the training as realistic as possible, the training drawer has play money to be counted, verified, and placed in an orderly fashion.

Practice round

In golf, many times the golfer has a chance to play a practice round to learn the course. During the practice round they determine which club to use, where the bunkers are, the location of any water hazards and out-of-bounds areas, and the layout of the green.

In teller training, the new employee can learn computer software in a closed environment and can learn from mistakes in much less stressful surroundings. The teller also learns about standard operating procedures, including cash handling, check cashing, proper identification verification, check holds, and counterfeit and fraud scams, among others. After two to three days of practice, tellers should be ready for live training.

Tee time

The tee time has arrived and the golfer is ready to take the first swing. He expects the ball to land in the fairway with a great look at the green.

When the time arrives for the new employee to work on the teller line, each one starts by observing a seasoned teller for a few hours or a full day, followed by actually working the teller window while being observed by a seasoned teller. Within four to five days the new teller is ready to work independently.


At the end of every hole, each golfer records the number of strokes it took to get the ball in the cup. At the end of an 18-hole round, the golfer totals the number of strokes for all members of the group and compares that number with the numbers counted by the other golfers. If everyone’s scores are the same then great; if they are different, the group reviews each score hole by hole to resolve the discrepancy. The scorecards are collected by the tournament coordinator and recorded to determine the winners.

At the end of a teller’s workday, the cash drawer, checks, and other transactions are balanced and compared to the computer totals. If all equal, great! If they don’t, the cash drawer is recounted, checks are totaled again, and transactions are reviewed for accuracy. Another teller may also count the cash drawer and review checks and transactions. Paperwork is then prepared for the head teller to balance the branch’s daily business.

There are certainly similarities between playing golf and delivering accurate teller services. But beyond the technical aspects of each endeavor is the passion one has for being involved, and that is something one must find in oneself.

Rita R. Johnson, PHR, is the Training & Development Coordinator at Fort Knox Federal Credit Union, where she has worked since 1988.

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