Anna Hauck has been in the credit union industry for 21 years. But CUNA’s senior manager of educational products has only recently seen credit unions realize they need a consistent training strategy.
“Training is so important, and I think it's overlooked as a benefit of working at a credit union,” says Hauck, a certified credit union facilitator who previously worked at credit unions and the Illinois Credit Union League. “When you’re talking about recruiting and retention, putting that professional development opportunity out there is something that's going to have people climb on board.”
While training is crucial, high costs and limited staff keep some credit unions from hiring standalone trainers. Instead, Hauck suggests those credit unions turn in-house subject-matter experts (SMEs) into trainers.
“How do we make these people into someone who can train the rest of the staff?” she asks, believing it requires a streamlined process and a consistent training method.
Building a streamlined process starts with credit union leaders defining the type of training they need, assessing their resources, and identifying trusted SMEs who have real-life experience with the products they’ll be training people on.
She says experts can come from any part of the credit union, suggesting credit unions ask staff members, “If you needed help or had questions about ‘X,’ who would you go to?”
Don’t choose employees who are actively disengaged and who lack accountability, and those who resist teamwork or believe there’s only one right way to operate.
Rather, potential SME trainers should be available for a training assignment, willing to take on the assignment, and proficient in the subject matter. They should be ambassadors who are experienced in public speaking, good communicators, and experienced in leading a team.
Even with some of these qualities, not all SMEs are natural trainers as their personality might not lend itself to the role. However, some of these traits can be taught by credit union leaders willing to work with experts to alleviate their concerns and shortcomings.
“Develop them as trainers and teach them things like adult-learning theory, ways to interact, and how to drive home the training and the information they're providing,” Hauck says. “Give them the opportunity to develop as opposed to forcing them into this role. They have to want to do it. If they don't want to, it's not going to work.”
If the credit union finds an expert who’s interested in becoming a trainer and is well-suited for the role, both parties will benefit.
Credit unions benefit by getting a trainer who is already on the team, has expert-level knowledge in their area, and has already gained the trust of the staff. On the other hand, SMEs benefit by receiving professional development, increased job satisfaction, possible financial benefits, and a higher-performing team.
“It plays an important role in employee retention,” Hauck says. “Having SMEs trained and confident in what they're doing plays a big role in their satisfaction at work.”