A magic bullet for performance excellence doesn’t exist, Pete Reicks, senior vice president of enterprise performance at Elevations Credit Union, said in his keynote speech at the Performance Excellence in Credit Unions Conference in Madison.
The $1.56 billion asset credit union in Boulder, Colo., is a recipient of the 2014 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation's highest presidential honor for performance excellence in innovation, improvement and visionary leadership.
"The journey to excellence is an investment," Reicks said. The journey takes time and it is different for every organization.
Reicks’ advice for credit unions seeking a high-performance culture:
Stay away from complexity. Find the “simple smart” way of working better.
Be proud, but humble. Leverage your strengths repeatedly.
Zoom out. Don’t get lost in the day-to-day. Purposefully zoom out to gain a greater perspective of the value of your work and the progress you’ve made.
Realize that top performers crave excellence and they want to be a part of organizations that strives for it.
Be aware that the hardest step can be setting your goal. You have to commit. The journey is an investment. Just get started, regardless of what is going on at your credit union.
Measure your performance. How are you doing relative to your peers in financial services and outside the industry?
Get comfortable with truthful conversations. Set emotion aside and find ways to work smarter collaboratively.
Figure out your core values and then live by them. Make sure employees understand them. They can’t be meaningless words.
Bring rigor and purpose to your organizational forums and meetings. If the water cooler or happy hour conversations at the bar are more honest than those in your meetings, you’re not being effective.
Realize that you’ll take some spills. Learn from them and move forward.
Avoid change fatigue. Be smart about change. Evaluate new ideas by matching them to your core values and strategic plan.
Celebrate. Make reaching for your goals fun. Have many carrots and few sticks.
Know the difference between good and great. Sometimes you need an outside view. Bring in someone that can audit your performance.
Get to a point where your staff can discuss their work with the same fluency that they dissect their sports team the day after a game.
The conference, organized by the Wisconsin Center for Performance Excellence and CUNA Mutual Group, was held at the Credit Union Center in Madison, Wis.