Bankers say success lies in building culture.

Culture's rate of return is better than prime, according to a couple of bankers who participated in a recent panel discussion organized by the Risk Management Association.

Lynn Harton and Terry Turner talked about what appeared to be different approaches to success in business management, but they agreed that culture is more important than the tactics used to reach success.

Harton is president and CEO for United Community Bank Inc. Turner has served as president and CEO of Pinnacle Financial Partners since its founding in 2000. The two were part of a panel that included attorney Neil Grayson of Nelson, Mullins Riley & Scarborough and moderated by Allen Gillespie, president and managing partner of investments for FinTrust Investment Advisors.

"Culture is what each of your organizations do consistently what you think and do every day," Harton said. "It leads directly to what kind of results you get, so it is the most important piece of running an organization. What I try to do is make sure the culture fits the kind of results I want to get."

Harton said he has worked at United Community Bank to build a staff of professionals who can deliver the kind of expertise and service that customers will appreciate and support, but he said that team wouldn't come together if the individual members don't like their jobs.

"The final piece is we want to be a great place to work and I believe that with great people, what they want is to be trusted," Harton said. "They want to be believed. What I try to do is make sure those things are aligned people, compensation practices because there's nothing that breaks a company more than having leaders who say one thing and do another."

Harton said his company has done three all-employee surveys, and though the first was a bit painful, each group of results has empowered the managers to work toward a more positive environment for staff.

"We really try to create connections," he said. "If people feel...

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