Alignment among senior leadership is essential to the success of your credit union. A misaligned leadership team can lead to significant issues throughout the organization. This can stem from a lack of connection to the overall purpose. When your organization is firmly aligned with your overall purpose, your team will invest themselves in meeting or exceeding the goals of the organization.
Companies who incorporate performance-enhancing culture into their organizations experience a 756% increase in net income. Driving positive change in your credit union’s culture starts with your leadership team.
How can you begin driving leadership through an aligned purpose?
Align on the ‘why’ behind the organization.
The first step to establishing a leadership team that is aligned with the company’s purpose is to understand the ‘why’ behind your organization. Lack of establishing a consistent ‘why’ behind the purpose of your organization makes it challenging to build and protect a culture of success.
When it comes to the ‘why’ in a credit union, you start at a HUGE advantage over many other organizations! As a member-owned financial cooperative, your credit union was created to serve the needs of its members to the utmost. The real challenge in credit unions is keeping your traditional service-oriented focus while ensuring your members are able to take advantage of all your organization has to offer. Limited in-person interaction due to the pandemic has made this even more challenging. Finally, differentiating between team members who are doing just enough and those true star performers is becoming more important as the competition for talent continues.
By crafting a culture that inspires employees to achieve more, you are better equipped to succeed as a whole organization. If everyone is not completely aligned on your shared purpose, employees throughout the credit union will be unable to live your CU’s mission in their actions. When employees are disconnected, they are less productive and less likely to remain loyal to the credit union.
As the credit union’s CEO, it is highly important to share that ‘why’ with your members and your community. If your members are connected to your greater purpose, they are more likely to remain loyal to your credit union. This is especially true with younger generations – witness the RobinHood debacle! Establishing your ‘why’ and remaining consistent with your mission helps your leadership team, your employees, and your members.
Define the necessary culture to support your specific ‘why.’
Once you have established a ‘why’ that aligns your team, you and the rest of your leadership team must begin using the ‘why’ as a guide for all decisions you make related to your culture. Integrity of action and message is more important today than at any time in our history. In order for you to reinforce overall alignment, you must create experiences for your team that reinforce your shared purpose.
Craft a vision that supports the results you want to achieve.
When leadership teams are genuinely aligned on the company’s vision, it allows the entire organization to follow suit. When your upper management team lives the vision through both words and actions and further empowers other leaders throughout the organization to act on the same, they will begin implementing your greater purpose into their daily decision-making.
Crafting this culture starts from the top. Leaders must establish norms and regularly communicate the vision in order for the entire credit union to work together to achieve that vision. Quite honestly, you can never communicate your vision and goals too often, especially during periods of cultural change.
Define goal metrics to understand what winning looks like.
It is essential to envision what correctly executing this aligned purpose looks like. Studies show that visualizing ourselves achieving a goal allows our brains to start finding ways to get us there. As a team, ask everyone to envision what winning looks like and encourage them to share their ideas with their team.
Ask your team what the organization feels like? What should we be celebrating? It can be inspiring to see how members of your team respond to these questions.
In setting goals, the goals must align with the ‘why’ otherwise the goals will ring hollow. For example: “we need to grow from $500 million in assets to $1 billion in assets in the next 4 years” may not resonate. However, a more specific goal will help your employees understand the reasoning. An example would be, “we want to serve our members better than anyone in the market, to do this, we need to have greater scale and access to tools that only make sense at a larger size, meaning we have to get from $500 million to $1 billion in assets in 4 years in order to help us stay true to this vision.”
Establish accountability and follow-through
In order to actually execute this plan, you need to ensure that you have the essential elements, accountability, and follow-through to make it happen. If you do not hold your team accountable, nothing will change and these discussions will go without execution.
In order to achieve results, one person must be held accountable for the outcome, others assisting are responsible for driving the outcomes, and the rest of the team should be regularly informed and share information on the progress. These elements should be clearly defined, agreed upon, and communicated throughout the organization. Dilution of responsibility is a key feature of a bureaucratic and non-accountable culture. The “buck” has to stop somewhere with each decision made throughout the organization.
Set regular meetings to ensure your team remains in alignment.
Lastly, a cadence of regular meetings and scheduled communication should be implemented as soon as possible. In order for your credit union to remain aligned, regular check-ins are a necessity. A lot can happen in a few weeks. Priorities can change and leaders must be ready to adapt to those changes.
However, it’s important that these meetings are only as long as they need to be to hit the key points regarding your goals. For example:
- Is the priority still ‘X’?
- Are we on schedule to achieve X by Y?
- If not – why and what is the remedy (no excuses allowed!)
Discussion regarding the details and deficiencies leading to missed targets should be taken offline so the update meeting is as concise, to the point, and without extraneous information. When this approach is implemented on a regular basis it helps drive individual accountability and helps you as CEO understand your key goals, how they are progressing, and where bottlenecks are occurring.
At Newcleus CU Advisors, we are in the business of helping your credit union achieve success. We work with your CEO, Board of Directors, CFO, and HR professionals to ensure your credit union is poised to experience growth and success. Contact us today to see how we can help your team.