CEOs of small credit unions and their challenges

  1. Not enough time in the day

Rarely, do we wake up and feel confident of what our day looks like in “Credit Union World”, We start off every day with a routine of getting started and preparing for the staff to arrive, however, many times before the staff even arrives troubles have started to brew, some small and some that could turn into big deals. A normal day can quickly become a day that I wish I could press fast forward!

The solution always lies with a calm head and a time to think the issue through, many times the problems can be so alarming that we often act before we think. Believe it or not? Your first reaction if not clear and dedicated in thought could make the situation much worst-so always stand back and think! Those few extra minutes will not stop the issue but could get you to a solution much quicker and with a better outcome.

Daily struggles of a small credit union consist of many different things, including but not limited to:

Server Issues
Phone line
Federal Reserve
Alarm Monitoring
Share Drafts
Printer Malfunctions
Computer Issues
Lost mail
Cash shortages
The last Envelope

All of these items and the many more that occur must be answered, fixed or repaired and business must go on, with little to no notice to Members. When working in a small credit Union the CEO is often the face, voice and decision maker in all aspects of the daily business, decisions must be made quickly but with thought.

Finding time and reorganizing your day at the last minute, takes patience and persistence to stay on task, often putting out one fire to run to the next. In most cases, credit unions of smaller sizes are limited with staffing and the CEO has to become the master of all.

  1. Too many issues

As I have mentioned, the many issues that arise on a daily basis varies from day to day but there is always a constant growing list of issues, needs and wants. Getting them all accomplished in a day, week or month is often a challenge, so we must organize and reorganize all day long and all month long to get things accomplished and completed.

List making is often a very helpful tool, one thing is being able to mark something off as completed, it is a confidence booster, sometimes when your world seems to be close to destruction- it is nice to see that list with items marked off of it, gives us a boost but still reminding us the day is not over.

We may not finish everything that is on that list and the list may look totally different at the end of the day than what it looked like when we started, but it does keep us on target for getting the most needed items done and completed for the start of a new day. Lists also help because we do have so many things going on that a written reminder keeps us on track for a better more controlled tomorrow.

  1. Staying current with rules and regulations

In our ever changing lives, we have come to expect that our jobs are no different. When you think of all of the rules and regulations we are following and the changes coming and going, it is almost impossible if not impossible to stay current on all changes for small credit unions and the Financial Industry as a whole.

Not to mention a feeling of just being overwhelmed by all of the items that must be read in order to stay current and within regulatory guidelines. Larger CU’s have entire departments to keep them on track but resources dictate smaller CU’s have to be more crafty at learning new rules and still maintaining profitability.

Audits both internal and state or federal mandated can be overwhelming and confusing. The amount of time and energy spent on preparing for them could be a job in and of itself. The information needed and requested can amass to a great deal of information. Often times so much information is passed back and forth that the same information may be requested multiple times leading to confusion on everyone’s part.

  1. Managing everyone’s expectations, including your Board, Staff, Members and Auditors

As we all know, keeping everyone happy is impossible-no matter how good you are-all people will never be satisfied or content.

Board Members can be your best or worst enemy, all you can expect and hope for that they will be informed and coming from a place that is targeted toward the best interest of the CU. In most cases I would assume this happens. Getting the Board to read the monthly information and question anything is a great accomplishment-then if you can get them to have a passion for the CU then all things will work with the Board and will propel the CU toward success.

Staff can be your biggest supporters and your biggest critics, keeping everyone satisfied is impossible but maintaining a relationship between you and them always helps to resolve any issue. In a small place our small problems are often magnified, if you can get your staff to be open and you remain open the issue can be resolved and things can become better. I sometimes think working in a larger environment would be so much easier, more people to do the duties needed but then I remember that the more staff the more problems.

  1. You and your own expectations!

Often times we are our own worst enemy, we may have lots of stress and tension involved in just being a CEO but we often are the hardest on ourselves-Often our expectations are greater and more extreme than most expect of us, but we use unrealistic goals to measure our performance and ability to be the best CU CEO we can be-sometimes the things we place on ourselves takes away from the true work we are to do and perform.

When we ask those around us, for them to have realistic goals and expectations we need to follow that rule not only of others but of ourselves. If we can not be pleased with our performance we can’t expect others to be happy with our performance or our outcomes.

Being a CEO of a small CU is much harder than we realize, we must learn to utilize the tools that we have on hand and we must strive to be better tomorrow than we did yesterday. We must also learn that if something is not working then it needs changed, maybe a tweak or an entire new plan. We have to learn to be quick and patient. Surrounding ourselves with Staff, Board Members, Supervisory Committee Members, Members and others in similar situations will help us to become better CEO’s and our CU’s to become successful.   Trying may not make us perfect but it makes us Better!

Darrin Myers

Darrin Myers

Darrin Myers is currently the Chief Executive Officer for Loudoun Credit Union in Leesburg, Virginia.  Darrin has been with LCU since October of 2006 and was promoted to CEO in ... Web: Details

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