MADISON, Wis. – Stanford Federal Credit Union Vice President of Administration Mike Hillard brings his philosophy of "talk it out" to his position as chair of CUNA's Human Resources and Training and Development Council and chuckles that his hide has been saved many a time "simply by maintaining a dialogue." Established in 1994 in response to a growing credit union need, CUNA's HR Council has recently added training and development to its focus rather than form a separate council. "Training used to be part of operations and marketing, but it has grown into a more complex and more distinct discipline, working now with human resources. So we had to provide something for trainers and develop a separate listserve and track to deal with issues surrounding their needs," said Hiller. The council boasts some 450 members and through its popular listserves and growing online community, where responses to questions or concerns are provided within the hour, Hillard says the greatest complaint among practitioners remains not being viewed as part of the executive team. "There is this big push toward a sales culture and the revision of fair labor standards and HR/TD shares in the whole issue surrounding a tighter market. As credit unions struggle to get loans HR/TD struggles along with them to help create an environment where that can happen," said Hillard. " If you consider that most of the costs come from health care and employee benefits it is easy to see that HR/TD has something to bring to bear there.but we in HR and TD also need to be the squeaky wheels and ask to be a part of it. Part of our job is to convince people why we should be a part of the executive team and build an understanding." Hillard says an HR or TD person's primary role is to tear down walls to get people talking and working with each other while keeping an ear out for employee concerns. Since a lot of time is spent " building bridges" as Hillard puts it, the listserve also helps the council plan conferences and seminars up to a year in advance. Members are queried on their interests and challenges throughout the year so that the topics covered represent the latest, most relevant hot button issues. As council chair Hillard sees a future where the council reaches out and forms more partnerships within the human resources and training and development community. "We've been in talks with regional groups, leagues, schools and other professional organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management and American Society of Training and Development to see if there are ways to partner so that we can provide all levels of resources for small and large credit unions," said Hillard. "Right now our niche is such that we tend to attract the HR professionals from midsize to large credit unions but we should also have something for smaller credit unions too so that their HR staff can also improve their skills. We're exploring many options." [email protected]

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