The indicators are everywhere. The COVID crisis, depending on your perspective, is over or at least quickly receding.
The economy is mostly open or at least opening. Consumer confidence is at its highest level since February 2020. The annualized Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate sat at 6.4 percent at the end of QI 2021.
While that’s great news, it is a mistake to assume that your credit union will or should return to normal.
The pandemic accelerated many changes that were already underway. Here are three that have an impact on your members as well as your own operation.
- Digital is the way we work and live.
COVID-19 sped up digital transformation by several years, and stories of organizations implementing their five-year technology plan in less than five months are common. This, according to McKinsey & Company, has increased both the percentage of customer interactions and the number of products and services that are digital. The move from digital transformation to a digital reality will be a major driver for everything you do.
- Jobs follow talent.
A significant portion of your team and your members can work from anywhere for anyone. You are competing globally for talent. Increased burnout is a risk, and maintaining your culture is a challenge. Those will not be enough to offset the positive impact of remote work for employers and employees.
Our pandemic experience proved that working remotely does not lead to a drop in productivity. One analysis has stated that 37 percent of U.S. jobs could now be done at home. This trend represents significant opportunities to hire the best talent and dangers for credit unions whose membership is tied to large employers in a geographic location.
- We will be defined by our ability to change change.
Biology changes slowly. Ideas and technology move much quicker. Barring a total world implosion, the rate of change is as slow as it will ever be again.
History teaches that transformational ideas follow global pandemics. The Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793 prompted the Founding Fathers to consider public health. The 1918 flu pandemic transformed how we approached it.
We have already experienced lasting change in how we work. The mRNA vaccine technology will potentially change how we treat disease.
Quickly adapting to change is a given, and it is no longer enough. Your ability to anticipate and pursue change will be the difference between continued excellence and irrelevance.
Chart Your New Next
You and your team are uniquely structured, optimized, and focused to achieve exactly the results you are delivering today. Every leader and team probably need to change a little as they look to the future. The good news is that you might not need to change a lot. Here are five options from which to choose.
- Reset: This is the easiest change. It refocuses you on the path you were pursuing 15 months ago. A reset is perfect if you were already on a journey to be a member-obsessed, collaborative, future-focused, nimble team. Begin the conversation by congratulating your team on adapting to change last year, and then use that as a springboard to reset for the future.
- Refresh: This is the organizational equivalent of paint on the walls, spring cleaning, and some new furnishings to bring your home into the present. This is an excellent opportunity to formalize the operational and communication changes that made you successful during the pandemic. Refreshing requires intentional effort, but it isn’t a major overhaul. The elements for future success are there. They just need updating.
- Remodel: This is significant but not structural change. You might, for instance, update your strategy, optimize your processes, or change some roles, responsibilities, or people. At the end of the day, however, the vision, structure, strategy, and/or culture look both different and similar.
- Renovate: The difference between remodel and renovate is important. A home improvement project is a good metaphor. Remodeling is adding new cabinets, counter tops, appliances, and backsplash in your kitchen. Renovating involves raising ceilings, moving walls, and rerouting plumbing and electrical before any cosmetic upgrades. Renovating your operation could include a total reorganization of your operating structure or member servicing model. It is a significant investment in time, energy, and resources that yields a dramatically different operation when done well.
- Rebuild: This is essentially starting over. It is putting a new strategy, structure, and team in place on an existing piece of real estate. The address is the same, but everything else is new. This most often occurs in extreme situations such as a merger or complete business model change. Rebuilding is the most complex and time-consuming change because you are building your new operation while continuing to use your existing one.
There is a line from Michael Martin Murphy’s old song “Desert Rat” that rings true: “Success is survival, and you toughed it out.”
You and your team deserve immense credit for your accomplishments in the past 15 months. Take time to celebrate and recharge. Then remember my grandmother’s words to me, “Don’t dawdle. There are things to do.”
The changes you make today are crucial to your success in the future. It is time to get started.