What Makes an Effective CU Manager?

A new report explores what kind of employees make the best middle managers.

May 14, 2012

A new Filene Research Institute report explores what kind of employees make superlative middle managers and how credit unions can identify and promote them.

Here's how superior middle managers differ from average employees, according to “Attributes and Skills of Highly Effective Credit Union Managers:”

  • Learning. Because highly effective middle managers must learn quickly and be adept at problem solving, 87% fall at or above average.
  • Energy. The “tendency to display endurance and capacity for a fast pace” is a key characteristic, with 86% scoring above average.
  • Decisiveness. Using available information to make decisions quickly is critical, with 80% of respondents above average.
  • Verbal skills. Among good middle managers, 69% are above average in verbal skills, making them better able to communicate effectively with members, subordinates, peers, and executives.

But just as important is to understand where this group underscores the averages, the report says. Being lower than average isn’t negative, but it highlights traits where good middle managers are atypical:

  • Objective judgment. Great middle managers are far less likely than average employees to rely solely on data in decision making. The fact that 79% fall at or below the average indicates a strong reliance on intuition rather than just facts.
  • Manageability. Highly effective managers want their own leaders to define outcomes and then let them complete those goals with relatively free rein—72% score below average in manageability.
  • Accommodating. Good middle managers are significantly less accommodating than the norm. With 73% scoring below average, good middle managers know when they shouldn’t go with the flow.

“This report can be used as a tool for hiring and promoting in the middle management ranks,” points out Ben Rogers, Filene’s director of research. But whether you use a formal screening mechanism or rely on interviewing and your own intuition, Rogers says understanding these factors and how they play into effective credit union management will help you hire and promote more successfully.

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