Kimberly Palmer has spent a good portion of her career on international businessand has the master of languages to prove it.
Aside from English, she speaks Spanish,French and “enough Portuguese to get introuble at dinner parties.”
It’s no surprise then that Palmer is constantly thinking about methods of buildingcompany culture through communication.And when Palmer came back statesidewith Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. — whichrecently merged with Bank of America —as regional managing director for SouthFlorida a few years ago, it was a natural fit.In a company focused on constant andopen communication, Palmer has beenable to spread that mentality to the roughly 800 employees in her charge.
“I just believe that you have to have a culture where there is open communication,and that’s why I encourage it, and everybody who works with me encourages it,”she says. “If everybody else espouses thesame thing, then you really do have a feeling of openness, and that’s what gets youthrough some of the hard times like we’reall going through.”
To get her region of the leading wealth management, capital market and advisory company to open up, Palmer came right in thedoor talking. She instantly engaged her people on who she was, how interested she wasin hearing their ideas and what they could dotogether. From there, she hasn’t stepped offthe gas pedal in her efforts to build a culturewhere everyone communicates.
In turn, her region, which had $366 millionin revenue in 2007, is continuing to chugforward in a tough economy. The processhas been easier for Palmer, who is naturallydisarming on top of her lingual prowess,but it still took smart steps. Not everyemployee is going to go out of his or herway to speak up, so Palmer says you haveto engage employees first to get thingsgoing. Once you’ve set up that process, youhave to follow up by showing off your listening skills and then give candid feedbackto people to set the tone for celebrating success and constructive criticism.