My credit union believes in a work-hard, play-hard culture.
It’s an atmosphere that existed when I joined UT Federal Credit Union four years ago and one that I have worked hard to continue—and push the boundaries.
My team has been known to hold “Turkey Bowling” tournaments where team members hurl a frozen Cornish hen down the second-floor hall at a group of plastic bowling pens.
Another team dressed as their mothers on Mother’s Day last year. That one almost went a bit too far...
Why do this? Happy team members make better team members. It is undebatable.
Are these management methods unconventional? Maybe to those who don't see the results.
But then again, my credit union has never been conventional. Let’s look at the facts:
• It took us only four years to near the NCUA business lending cap. During three of those years, we had no official business lending department.
• We launched a business micro-loan program that has not been done anywhere else and has received national recognition from multiple sources—including calls from the Small Business Administration (SBA) about how to replicate what we have done.
• Our credit union has been the top SBA lender in our state for three years—even when competing against the banks.
That’s not to mention what we’ve done on the consumer side of the balance sheet.
Not trying to brag. It’s simply that our unconventional ways—and I'd like to think our successes—have attracted people who want to join our team.
I recently took over supervision of our marketing department. Because I believe in hiring for fit, not necessarily resume (experience matters but I can't teach ambition, drive, and other positive traits) I decided to change up the interview process.
The first test? Will applicants play with Legos that are left out in the interview room while they’re waiting for us to join them? The way I see it, if they aren't willing to play and have fun they don't belong on our team.
This is particularly true for marketing positions where creativity is critical. But I believe it also relates to other positions.
What do you think? Would you play with the Legos or stay “buttoned up?”
Our ways are a bit uncommon. But then again, so are our results.
We are a family who works hard and plays hard. Sometimes, not even in that order.
JONATHAN PATRICK is senior vice president/chief lending officer for $225 million asset UT Federal Credit Union in Knoxville, Tenn., and the founder of three startups. He was named one of Credit Union Magazine’s 2014 Credit Union Rock Stars.