How to create a more engaged credit union team

I’m sure you’ve seen the statistics: nationwide, only 29% of employees are engaged in their work (the number varies depending on the source, but it’s generally in this range). In my experience, that number is higher within credit unions, primarily because credit union employees share a sense of mission. Still, I think we can all agree that it would be better if the number were higher still. So how do you get your team members to truly care about the work (which is my definition of engagement)? Here are four ideas to create a more engaged credit union team.

  1. Instead of trying to get buy-in, try giving ownership.

Credit union leaders often ask me, “How can I get more buy-in from my team?” My answer is that buy-in, generally, doesn’t work. Why? Well, think about it. When you’re trying to get “buy-in,” the implication is that you’re trying to sell something. And very few people enjoy being “sold” to. After all, when you feel like you’re being sold to, what’s your natural response? To resist, right? But what if, instead of trying to get buy-in from your team, you started to give ownership? Can you feel the difference? So how do you do that? By making your team members feel like they are active participants in the process. And how do you do that? That’s the next idea.

  1. Give them the “What” and let them surprise you with the “How.”

People are naturally more engaged when they’ve got skin in the game. When it’s “our” project, as opposed to “management’s” project, we’re more apt to support, defend, even advocate for, that project. So Step 1 is to make sure every member of your team is clear on the goal (the “What.”) (This may seem obvious but, shockingly, only 40% of employees in the U.S. know what their organization’s goals are!) Step 2 is to ask your team members how (the “How,” duh!) to achieve the goal. But this can’t just be lip service; you need to truly listen to their ideas. Which leads us to…

  1. Provide uninterrupted listening in meetings.

Have you noticed that, in meetings, the loudest person tends to dominate? And yet, as far as I can ascertain, there is no scientific correlation between volume and intelligence. There are two problems here. First, you may not be getting the input of some of your smartest—but quietest—team members. Second, those team members who feel like they’re constantly being out-shouted and overshadowed by their more vociferous colleagues naturally start to feel less engaged. The answer to both problems is to make it a rule that, at meetings, everyone gets an uninterrupted turn to speak (and, equally important, nobody gets to “pass”; everyone speaks). When everyone on the team knows (as opposed to hopes) that they’ll be heard, they’ll feel more engaged—and you, as the leader, will benefit from more, and better, ideas.

  1. Say “Thank you.”

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Yet most of us don’t say “thank you” nearly as often as we should. And even when we do, we don’t say it in a way that helps to build engagement. I suggest that you make the “3-Part Thank You” part of your credit union’s standard operating procedure:

  1. Say “Thank you.” (This is the easy part.)
  2. Be specific. Let them know what specific behavior or achievement you are thanking them for.
  3. Tie it in. Let them know how the behavior or achievement fits into the goals and/or vision of the credit union.

Studies suggest that organizations with highly engaged team members achieve up to twice the annual net income of organizations whose team members are not engaged. This is because engagement is contagious. An engaged credit union employee helps to create engaged credit union members. And engaged credit union members will support, defend, and yes, even advocate for, their credit union!

Bill Stainton

Bill Stainton

Bill Stainton works with extraordinary leaders who want to produce breakthrough results with their teams. A 29-time Emmy® Award-winning producer, writer, and performer, Bill speaks frequently to Credit Unions and ... Web: Details