8 Keys to Training the Exceptional Teller

As you consider formalizing training for your bank tellers, there are two conditions that deserve strong consideration: initial training and ongoing training. Both can be challenging if the goal is to have standardized ways of completing tasks and functions and the expectation of exceptional tellers.


1. Initial Training

In my estimation, initial teller training should take no less than two weeks. After that time period, the new teller should be assigned a “buddy,” someone to work with for a period of two weeks, then in their own window with their “buddy” in the window next to them to make it easier to ask questions and seek assistance. Supervisors tell me that it takes approximately six months before a new bank teller is fully integrated into the job. So make sure the new teller has a lifeline until they’re confident and competent and your evaluation of their performance meets or exceeds the acceptable standard.


2. Written Procedures

The saying goes, “the road to success is paved with good intentions.” In the case of having well-trained bank tellers, the road to success is paved with written procedures. Written procedures become the backbone of all training as well as the reference points for tellers who need to find information or brush up on how to complete a task or function. Once written and tested for accuracy, make sure the procedure finds a permanent home on the company’s Intranet where all employees have access to the information.


Changes to procedures will occur, so make sure that only one person has the responsibility to update the procedures on the Intranet. It is imperative that the written procedures are current. Design a non-flexible approach to conveying when changes occur so that branches or the back office are not overlooked or don’t get notified about changes. No one should have outdated, printed copies of procedures they refer to – utilize the Intranet and keep the procedures current.


3. Customized Training Manual

A great tool for initial bank teller training is a customized teller training manual. First and foremost, the manual specifies what is expected of the teller. Everything included in the manual conveys the expectations of an exceptional teller. The manual details all the functions, forms, systems, etc. the teller will utilize to do their job along with step-by-step instructions on how to access the system to complete the function.


In addition to those items mentioned above, other things you should consider including in your customized teller training manual are: communication skills, the keys to exceptional customer service, sales techniques, compliance and regulatory (as it pertains to the teller), policies regarding check cashing, receiving tax payments, wires, items sent for collection, fraudulent items and, of course, what to do in each of these circumstances. This list is by no means inclusive; the manual needs to represent all that the bank has determined an exceptional teller needs to know to accomplish and meet that goal.


4. Ongoing Training

Ongoing teller training should definitely occur when there has been a change to a system, procedure, process, function, or regulation, or when the employee cannot properly perform any of these. I would also recommend that your bank take a look at those critical success factors and make certain you build some ongoing teller training days into your calendar for those as well. For instance, tellers need to be reminded periodically what to do in case of a hold-up, how to handle angry and difficult customers, how to stay positive, how to dress and behave in a professional manner, as well as how to sell and persuade, how to listen for meaning, how to maintain security codes and passwords, how to detect fraud, and product and service knowledge, etc.


5. Training Topics

The topics for ongoing teller training are numerous and are only limited by what you perceive a teller should know to be successful. Time management, stress management, presentation skills, computer skills (basic and advanced), problem-solving skills, decision-making skills and leadership skills are a few I would add to a teller’s ongoing training skill sets.


6. When to Train

We have a lot of special days in banking, so when to train can become a nightmare. Supervisors will say, “No Mondays or Fridays,” “Never the day before or after a holiday,” “Not on the first, third, fifteenth, or end of the month.” Not many good training days left! Since time is at a premium, I would utilize every avenue I could to make training happen. Internal webinars and/or video conferences allow you to conduct training without inviting bank tellers to one location. Lunch and Learn sessions where the bank buys the lunch and provides the training during a lunch period can be an ideal way to impart learning, especially for those ongoing training topics where reminder and enhancement is what you’re after.


Some ongoing training may be handled within an hour or two at the most. After-hours and Saturday training can cause some moans from tellers and trainers alike, but by making it fun and giving away a few prizes, you might find tellers eager to attend. Send tellers to public programs designed especially for tellers. Invest in online programs specifically tailored for bank tellers. I would utilize some of the seasoned tellers to help deliver training. It’s a great way to reward a good performer, and the person training always learns the most.


Do a web search for bank training options and investigate what works best for your bank and budget. Subscribe to website newsletters that have information your bank tellers need to know. Send out training packets where the tellers read the enclosed information, answer prepared questions, and sign a sheet they have read and understood the information, sending back to the trainer (or you) the questions page and the sign-off sheet.


7. Evaluation

In all training circumstances, evaluation is the key to know if the training is sticking, if the knowledge is imparted, and if the learning occurred. InterAction Training’s free Teller Observation Form is a wonderful tool for evaluating if the bank teller is performing to standard. If you see patterns tied to not balancing or errors, it might indicate what needs more attention in training or what training might need to be enhanced. If the evaluation indicates a teller is not performing to the standard, then the supervisor has an obligation to coach the bank teller to better performance.


8. Coaching

Certainly, training might not be the issue. Only by coaching will the supervisor determine what’s preventing the bank teller from performing to expectation and help them with a plan for improvement.


Today’s bank teller is expected to know more and do more than ever before. Preparing and developing the bank teller for this awesome responsibility takes dedication, determination and commitment to a well-developed and executed training plan.




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