Time doesn’t stand still. While it’s easy to focus solely on members and the work directly in front of us, we must keep an eye toward the future.
That means anticipating and adapting to trends in technology— whether it’s payments, mobile apps, or your website.
But it also means cultivating and retaining top talent. Like it or not, our current credit union leaders will not be here to serve the industry forever.
At some point—and for some credit unions, at a point very soon—these folks will retire and the industry will need to have successors ready to take their place.
That’s why we must identify and mentor those who will guide this movement into the future.
We need to empower those who will one day pick up the reins and play key roles in the growth of our industry, in developing solutions to new business needs, and in making a difference in our advocacy efforts.
We’ll also need new credit union leaders to serve on our CUNA and league boards and their associated committees, which will shape the direction of the industry.
More broadly, we need to pass down our institutional knowledge. We must educate our future leaders about where credit unions come from, how our purpose rests with helping members reach their life aspirations, the importance of collaboration, and how the combined work of CUNA, leagues, credit unions, and our business partners keeps this industry strong.
The Cooperative Trust’s Crasher program, which allows young professionals to attend and experience our larger industry events, is something we wholly support.
It’s no gimmick. It’s a serious commitment to helping the industry bring that next generation of credit union leaders into the fold.
And frankly, the enthusiasm these young professionals bring with them lifts us all up.
But we need more than the Crasher program if, as an industry, we’re going to be in a strong position for years to come.
Toward that end, CUNA offers a series of tools and learning events that address this very issue. Recently, for example, we held our CUNA Human Resources & Organizational Development Council Conference, helping 200 attendees work through and refine the strategies they use to hire, develop, and retain key staff.
Attendees also received insights from leadership guru Steve Farber, in addition to advice on how to maintain a vibrant and healthy workplace culture.
And remember, credit union leaders can work on these issues year-round through engagement with all of the CUNA Councils, which provide fantastic professional development and networking opportunities.
In addition to the Councils, CUNA produces a variety of reports to help credit unions stay abreast of the staffing, compensation, and culture trends that are shaping the industry, including our Staff Salary Report, our Turnover and Staffing Report, and the Environmental Scan (E-Scan).
For more than 60 years, CUNA Management School and its many regional locations have been building dynamic leaders through a rigorous blend of university classes and experiential learning.
I know our focus each day is on our members. And our smallest credit unions often have limited time to think about the months and years ahead, about succession plans, or compensation strategies.
But we cannot ignore these challenges. We all need to be mindful of the fact that, one day, a new generation of people will lead this industry.
Who will they be? How can we ensure they’re prepared and successful? These are questions we must answer.
Let’s continue to be mindful of our members. But let’s also be mindful that for us to succeed in that mission, we must continually renew ourselves so we can serve members for generations to come.
JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO of CUNA.