Credit unions have always distinguished themselves from their corporate competitors by emphasizing the sense of purpose and the member. Organizations that don’t focus on a sense of purpose will not survive.
Economic realities and technology are constantly changing the business landscape. If you don’t use new technologies today, you risk being defined as useless. New technologies will drive productivity growth over the next decade as demand for all things digital soars. Consumer expectations are rising, with consequences for organizations that don’t respond to new go-to-market strategies.
However, confidence is the key to success. Making sure your actions every day align with your values is what employees, members and partners want. Do leaders serve as role models? Are employees a priority? Have standards been created on how to work together and treat each other, and are goals set in the work environment?
Credit unions have always had this goal, but need to increase their speed with immediacy to survive. Employees demand to be part of the strategy and to be in control. Today, nearly one in three employees has already changed professional status. Nearly one in four people do not believe their mental health and physical well-being are being taken care of. Surprisingly, 48% of employees today would take a pay cut to have a sustainable future. Members reflect their values with their portfolios. Organizations that are not agile and flexible enough to adapt to this new environment will perish.
Communication in the work environment is today a differentiating factor. Clear communication requires thought. Providing short, clear messages takes preparation. Preparing bullet points in advance creates efficiency and shows respect for those who receive your message. No one wants to listen to the verbal treatment out loud. Taking responsibility for refining your thoughts leads to respectful discussions that save both time and energy. Having an agenda is essential. When you prepare an agenda before every meeting, it means valuing someone’s time, prioritizing the right issues, and showing intelligent handling of information and issues. This can be done not only in meetings, but also in other areas. If you share an article with someone, take the time to highlight or express the important areas of value. To do work. It shows respect and creates value and responsibility.
CEOs should create a dashboard that measures key metrics like talent attraction and turnover. It helps put the talent equation into perspective – who stays and goes, and why. Collecting data on who your members are and why they want to do business with you is a must. It is equally important to understand the benefits of technology and to ensure that cybersecurity risks are considered. With so many foreign actors and bad actors ravaging good institutions, it’s imperative to bring your employees and strategic alliances together to ensure that everyone you do business with shares your values. Additionally, how quickly you respond to these bad actors will determine the integrity of your future.
It is difficult and painful to look in the mirror and recognize the changes that need to be made in behaviors, leadership, governance and strategies. But establishing the right habits and the muscle memory for change is key. And having the strength and ability to regularly and strategically communicate where you want to go, as well as why and what the opportunities and expectations are, will ensure successful and continued movement towards your goals.
Your culture is your organization’s competitive advantage. A culture that builds employee engagement allows for a balance between personal autonomy in decision-making and alignment with organizational goals. Your employees need to see that the organization’s strategy flows directly from the mission, vision and values. Senior management should affirm and reinforce the culture through open and clear communication, setting the example for mission-aligned, values-based decisions that employees can see, embrace and follow.
Your mission, your vision and your values are the foundation of your culture and the common thread of your strategy. Your values are the benchmarks along the way. It is the stated and unspoken beliefs that form the norms of behavior. A successful strategy rests on this three-legged stool of mission, vision and values. Stay focused on how you communicate this from your board, within your leadership, throughout your organization and to your members.
Communication must be two-way. Remember that feedback and the frank exchange of ideas create the responsiveness and agility needed in today’s challenging landscape.
Stuart R. Levine is President and CEO of Stuart Levine & Associates in Miami Beach, Florida.