Like most organizations, credit unions sometimes struggle with creating the perfect culture. The most successful culture-centered organizations in the world have spent countless hours determining the components of their respective cultures. There are similarities and differences among those components.
Credit unions also try to instill a certain kind of culture at their organizations – doing so helps improve employee morale, productivity and satisfaction. But the best cultures go beyond all of this and create loyalty – among the credit union’s members as well as the employees.
When Southwest Airlines was founded, they immediately implemented an “employees first” culture. Not “customers first.” That may seem like a serious faux pas; however, the airline’s founder believed that if the employees were happy and motivated, customer satisfaction and loyalty would be the direct results. Today, Southwest Airlines is the largest airline carrier by passenger volume in the United States and is also the only major airline that has consistently produced profits during the economic downturn.
Can credit unions take a lesson from Southwest? I think so. And so I offer the following 4 C’s on which credit unions can start building their own cultures of excellence:
Commitment – Credit unions that are the most committed to providing exemplary member service and the most positive employee experience will achieve the greatest success. In addition, credit unions that have an unwavering and steadfast commitment to creating and maintaining the most productive workspaces will rise above the pack. Hard work, determination and realistic goals are the keys. There are no shortcuts.
Collaboration – The most successful credit unions are the ones that enjoy the greatest amounts of collaboration among employees. All of the credit union’s employees (top down) must endeavor to work together to obtain the best results.
Communication – The lines of communication should always remain open. When things are going well, the credit union has a duty to inform its members and employees. The same rings true during times of difficulty or crisis. If the employees know about and understand the challenges facing the credit union and are encouraged to view challenges as learning opportunities, chances are much better that they will work harder to overcome the obstacles.
Clowning – The best places to work are those which allow employees to have a little bit of fun. Sure, operating a credit union is a serious business and the fiduciary responsibilities involved can sometimes prove daunting. But people need to be allowed to laugh, joke around, and enjoy the work that they are doing. The credit union’s members should know that the employees enjoy what they do. As a consumer, I wouldn’t necessarily want to do business with a company that didn’t incorporate a little fun into the daily grind. Your credit union’s members may feel the same.
Creating a culture of excellence doesn’t have to be difficult. But it will take commitment, collaboration, communication and even some clowning around. Let’s get started!