How Organizations Labeled as “Straight-Laced” Fit with Culture-Building

October 9, 2019

Featuring: Josh Collins

This month we are profiling Josh Collins, Assistant Vice President of Culture, Oconee State Bank. I hope the content inspires you to go build a culture of enduring greatness in your own organization!

In this small organization, Culture lives large, proving that culture can extend to both employees and the community.

If you thought your organization was “too small” to focus on culture, think again. Take a look at this profile of Josh Collins who is leading the culture charge at Oconee State Bank, the only locally owned bank in the area. The bank is based in Watkinsville, Georgia, the largest town in Oconee County which has a population of approximately 38,000.

Josh’s personal mission aligns with that of the bank:

“Mark the lives of others.”

Check out this title:

After proving himself as a servant leader at one of Oconee State Bank’s financial centers, Josh was promoted to AVP, Culture in late 2018. That’s quite a commitment and we salute Neil Stevens, President, for placing a priority on people.

How many of us say this about the level of mutual respect in our organizations:

“We operate by something we call the Best Philosophy. We believe the best in one another; expect the best from one another; seek the best for one another; and tell the best about one another.”

Financial institutions can be labeled as “straight-laced” so how does that fit with culture-building:

Josh laughs out loud at that description of his bank, so we assume that means a hearty “no” to the perceived stereotype. “So, while our industry may be seen as straight-laced, we have to remember that every single person working here is a human being. It’s extremely vital that we make those human connections and that’s what culture-building is all about.”

Brilliant. Allowing employees to be the face of culture in the community as well:

“There are six different employee committees that focus on their area of expertise and passion. These employees are empowered to make change for the good of our organization as well as the community. We have a Green Committee for all of our team members who are passionate about helping the environment and reducing our footprint.” Besides connecting with a recycling partner, the bank has adopted stretches of highway as part of a community beautification effort.

How Josh creates programming to embrace his community:

“Our bank has been building trust with this community for almost 60 years.” A Leadership Speakers Series was developed last year. “The goal from the very outset was to bring in quality speakers, experts in their field, who the people in our community wouldn’t have access to otherwise. We open up our doors and allow community members this type of access.” Check out one such speaker, Dr. Randy Ross, who shared insight from his book, Relationomics.

Creating a longer term view of the impact of culture:

“We strive to ensure that the work environment values every team member.  Even if an employee moves on, whether through retirement or a new journey with another organization, we want them to look back fondly on their time at the bank and know that we added value to their lives. And if we help them move on to what their passions are in life, that’s a success for us even if they’re no longer with the bank.”

I get to attend what?:

Josh was an inaugural member of the Unstoppable Cultures Fellowship in 2018, only two weeks after being placed in charge of culture at his bank.

“There were so many like-minded individuals who were passionate about creating a remarkable environment for their team. The energy level in every single meeting was phenomenal and the willingness of everyone to share was exceptional. Just the sheer amount that you learn at UCF is incredible, and there were surprises around every corner. And before you leave the masterclass, you will have a game plan and be ready to go back to your organization and knock it out of the park.”

The Takeaway:

No business is too small to be big on culture. Culture-building is not something done apart from employees and then handed down; it is most effective when accomplished through partnerships with team members and your community.


Assistant Vice President of Culture
Oconee State Bank

Josh Collins has worked at Oconee State Bank for 8 years serving in various roles until settling into his current position as the culture officer last year.  Taking on a leading role in managing the work environment, he has found a home in which he can fulfill his purpose of ensuring a positive workplace that adds value to the lives of his fellow team members.  He is fortunate enough to wake up every day and head to work for an organization that realizes the importance of placing people first.  Every day is an opportunity to mark the lives of others and live out our vision, mission, and values to the fullest.

Outside of the workplace, he loves finding a good book so he can learn something new, spending time with his family, or attending live sporting events. Go DAWGS!

Together, we truly can build Unstoppable Cultures!


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