A gentle, insightful approach

Hicks’ dream job is helping people grow and learn.

August 21, 2019

In high school, Renae Hicks was a Black Hills Federal Credit Union (BHFCU) member.

After graduation, Hicks was prompted by the urging of one of the friendly tellers at BHFCU to apply for a position.

She went through the hiring process and never looked back. Hicks later served as loan officer, and currently she’s the learning and performance manager at the $1.3 billion asset credit union.

“Over the years I’ve learned and embraced the culture here,” she says. “It always feels like we’re doing something good and worthwhile.”

Hicks leads a team of six in Rapid City, S.D.

“Many times when you ask people what would be their dream job, the answer might be something like, ‘When I retire I’d like to work at Walt Disney World,’” she says. “For me, I’m already in my dream job and career.

"My job is helping people continue to grow, creating content and practices that will help them in their daily tasks and face-to-face encounters with members.”

Hicks led BHFCU’s charge to create “world-class service” sales training. The sales model aligns directly with the credit union’s mission of improving lives.

This includes not pushing products, but serving member needs—through gentle inquiry and relaxed face-to-face encounters.

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“When we say, ‘Your time is valuable,’ we’re acknowledging a member’s concern, let’s say, about having to drive through traffic to deposit a check, and we recommend direct deposit as a good alternative,” she says.

Another aspect of training includes identifying how to close performance gaps. 

Hicks starts by interviewing the credit union’s best performers to learn what contributes to their success, then shares their techniques to help others grow. 

Hicks also takes an insightful approach to employee development.

“I use the 3-to-1 coaching method: Provide three specific positive things they’ve done and one opportunity,” she explains.

This guides employees on what to—and what not to—repeat.

Her approach to training also is mindful of individual learners’ needs. “Some people learn visually, some by listening, and others by doing,” she says.

This information was critical in guiding BHFCU’s core conversion training program in 2018. The training took nine months and had to accommodate the range of learning styles for a staff of 350 employees.

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