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Keys to Building a High-Performance Culture
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 5:55 AM

While economic indicators – along with improving employment and housing figures – have many analysts predicting a more upbeat outlook for financial institutions in 2013, there are still a number of key issues that continue to pose risks for credit unions in the months ahead, according to Keith Hughey, senior consultant with John M. Floyd & Associates (JMFA).

“From regulatory uncertainty to concern regarding low interest rates and loan quality, to competition from unconventional service providers, institutions of all sizes must remain vigilant in order to survive and thrive in the years ahead,” Hughey says.

With so many high priority challenges to address, Hughey says it is imperative that credit union leaders maintain focus and stay true to the organization’s operating methodology and internal value system in order to fulfill your vision of success.

Following are key steps to keep in mind for building and maintaining a high-performing organization:

Have a mission

While most organizations put in the time to develop a mission statement, many times it is very long and once it is put to paper, no one remembers what it is. A mission is only effective if everyone – from the board chair to the newly hired teller – understands what it means and what it takes to execute.

Commit to corporate values

Values, such as integrity, safety and excellent service are the code of conduct by which an organization should operate. Values can be what differentiate an organization from its competition. But to be effective, a commitment to live and work by those values must begin in the boardroom and every decision made throughout the organization must be consistent with the expectations they set.

Develop a strategy

Like a road map, your strategy will help you to reach your organizational goals – how you get from where you are today to where you want to be. But once you get started, don’t forget to incorporate stopping points along the way so you can assess how you’re doing.

Beware of organizational drift

A pivotal management responsibility is keeping everyone on track and avoiding distractions that can cause an organization to drift away from where it was heading. Not only is organizational drift a barrier to reaching your goals, it can also erode employee confidence in management’s ability to lead.

Getting back on track

No matter the cause, cultural drift can undermine months or years of efforts to build or improve an organization. The first step to getting back on track involves getting a candid assessment of what went wrong from as many perspectives as possible, including an analysis of the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), employee and member satisfaction surveys and a thoughtful introspective look at what needs to be done differently. In most cases, a new way of thinking – coupled with extraordinary actions to get back on course – are needed to achieve extraordinary results.

Be patient, change is never easy

Know from the outset that changing a business culture takes time. Your ultimate success will depend on your ability to constantly communicate with your staff, remain true to your “core values” and commit to seeing the process through to the end. By doing so, the results you are seeking will become a reality.