Deliver world-class service

Deliver world-class service

How do CUs get staff on the same page?

June 20, 2017

The challenge of getting an entire organization on the same page is a top priority for every company, credit unions included.

The credit union board of directors often expects the CEO and the senior leadership team to have a good command of organizational communication, but it’s much easier said than done.

So what’s a credit union to do? How does a credit union get everyone on the same page? How do you effectively communicate the credit union’s mission, vision, motto, core values, and standards while delivering outstanding member service?

Not too long ago I met with an awesome senior management team. During the meeting, the CEO discussed the challenge of trying to connect everyone from senior managers to front-line staff to the credit union’s mission and vision.

Front Line Training with John MacDonald

I intently listened to the CEO’s questions about how to make his front-line and back-office staff feel empowered. For him, a real challenge was influencing the staff to feel connected to the credit union’s vision: How were his employees going to contribute to the credit union’s vision, objectives, and goals in a unified and consistent way?

I immediately understood the pressures he felt. I had the same experience when I worked at a credit union where the CEO faced similar challenges—until he attended CUNA’s World-Class Service Leadership School and stayed at a Ritz-Carlton hotel.

The CEO came back with one valuable tool and concept: A simple, folded card that fit in a wallet or lanyard pouch.

Every Ritz-Carlton employee was expected to carry this card at all times. Managers challenged fellow employees with questions like, “What’s the mission of the Ritz-Carlton?” or “Name five of our 10 standards.” Employees either recited the answers from memory or read the card.

The key was that anyone and everyone could be challenged at any moment. Manager to employee or employee to manager. Everyone was invested. If you didn’t have the card or weren’t committed, you were free to discover your future elsewhere.

My CEO implemented a similar card. Our credit union developed a program around what he had learned from the Ritz-Carlton regarding staff empowerment and extraordinary service experiences.

The card works for several reasons:

  • It establishes a mechanism that allows every employee to participate.
  • It reminds employees of the credit union’s mission, vision, core values, and standards.
  • It challenges employees to be committed to members, the organization, themselves, and fellow employees. It breeds success and commitment.
  • It emphasizes the importance of a positive “member-first” culture, which results in member loyalty and increased product use.

Back to my meeting with the credit union senior management team.

During a break I went into the CEO’s office, pulled out my tattered copy of the credit union card, and discussed my journey. Our team had invested so much time in developing the card, and saw that it produces so much dramatic, positive change, that I couldn’t let it go.

I encouraged the CEO to copy the card, but to also consider learning more about Ritz-Carlton’s philosophies and how they were implemented.

I could see some relief in his face. He saw a path and the potential of what he could unlock at his own credit union.

I saw through his eyes that he would be able to transform his credit union and staff to live the credit union’s mission and vision. He felt invested in the idea, and that the culture change was going to be supported by a simple, but well thought-out, wallet-sized card.

JOHN MACDONALD is a business development manager for CUNA and performance consultant for CUNA Creating Member LoyaltyTM.