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Implementing a Successful Strategic Plan Involves a Multi-Level Approach
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 8:40 AM

Credit unions continue to address the challenges posed by an ever-changing marketplace, economic and regulatory uncertainty, and shifting member service expectations. As a result, Keith Hughey, senior consultant with John M. Floyd & Associates, says having a clearly defined strategy for setting goals, focusing resources and measuring outcomes is essential, regardless of whether an institution is in the acquisition mode; is preparing to sell; or simply implementing new programs and services to position itself as the primary financial services provider for its members.

“To be effective, a strategic plan should have no more than three major strategic initiatives and the planning process should include the perspectives of staff at every level of the organization that are tasked with the everyday responsibility of implementing the proposed actions and changes,” suggests Hughey. “While not everyone will necessarily provide input of a strategic nature, the tactical ideas shared by those on the front line can provide valuable insight relative to operational realities, member needs and any procedural inefficiency that need to be addressed.”

In order to jump start staff involvement in the strategic planning process, Hughey recommends that management create an initial communications outline that:

  • shares the credit union’s vision, mission and values;
  • gathers staff input regarding challenges and opportunities for improvement;
  • explains the role each staff member plays in making the credit union successful; and
  • defines specific, measurable steps for employees to complete in relation to the plan.

Once implementation begins, each strategic initiative should be given an owner who will take responsibility for moving it to completion. Throughout the process, effective use of project management tools can help to identify bottlenecks and help to re-direct project efforts when necessary.

Hughey says it’s important for credit unions to develop the type of culture where employees feel that their opinions are valued.

“When people feel that emotional ‘ownership’ they are more likely to work harder to ensure that goals are met and they are more alert to additional ways that enable the institution to deliver better results and greater value to its members,” notes Hughey.

At regular intervals, Hughey says management should convene the staff to share examples of how the plan is progressing and to acknowledge the important role everyone is playing to help the credit union reach its strategic goals.

Also, at least once a year, he says management should take the initiative to gather feedback on how well they have kept their promises, managed the planning process and supported the efforts of staff in moving the organization forward.

“Not only does this serve as a good way to close the loop on the current year, it strengthens the sense of teamwork and leads to a higher level of member care,” adds Hughey.

Helpful Resources: Credit Union Resources’ OnBalance offers strategic planning and consulting services. Click here to learn more