Credit union training & development at the heart of excellence

Employee training and development are the cost of doing business. If you expect excellence from credit union personnel, then you must give them the tools with which to provide excellent member service. Quality is derived and delivered from those whom have been properly prepared to excel at member service. Training and development (T&D) is at the heart of excellence. Every credit union employee should have an individual development plan (IDP), and it should be reviewed and revised accordingly on at least an annual basis. In larger credit unions, this is a responsibility of the human resource (HR) department. Smaller organizations rely on supervisors and management personnel to monitor the need for T&D.

The best place to start is in the member complaint arena by asking a simple question. With what thing(s) are members dissatisfied? The answer to that question is quintessential to a T&D starting point. Hopefully, all credit unions have a way of tracking member satisfaction levels. There are fundamental and preliminary steps to be taken. For example, you will need the answers to the following questions cited below.

  • Who can provide the training required and will an outside vendor/consultant be needed?
  • Who should be involved in the training and what level(s) of employees/team members need the training?
  • How much time will the training take?
  • How will the employees/team members be scheduled?
  • What is the cost for the training?
  • How will the effectiveness of the training by measured?

There are many types and approaches to training. They include computer-based (CBT), online training, on-the-job (OJT), job rotation, and even formal classroom training which can be conducted in-house in a classroom format by an internal professional who possesses the knowledge and skill needed. Another source may be external professionals from a college, university, technical institute, or even an outside vendor/consultant who possesses the specific skills and ability expected and required. When deciding upon the type or approach to training, the two key components of consideration are cost and effectiveness. Training should never be done for the purpose of just checking a box. When Employees-team members are in training, they are not producing, except perhaps in the case of OJT, which is a part of the overall cost. OJT is usually very effective because of the hands-on nature. In this instance, a person is actually shown how to perform a function and then performs it themselves. Job rotation is especially applicable to management trainee positions, because an employee-team member gets to spend time in various departments. This vastly improves the knowledge of the depth and breadth of how the organization interrelates. There are other types of training which could prove to be apropos. They include conference attended sessions on a specific topic or even satellite delivered information. In both of these instances most of the training experience is one-way communication.

Other than technical training, there is no training more important than teaching credit union tellers to (1) smile when the member approaches, (2) make eye contact, (3) call that member by name, and (4) thank them with sincerity for their business. The same holds true for a member service representative (MSR) in a branch or taking calls in a call center. The member should be able to feel that they are the most important person in the world at that moment in time. For example, even though the employee-team member may be physically located at a distant or remote location, that person is working for one of the owners of the credit union–the member. We are taught in telephone etiquette to smile before taking the next call. That smile helps create a fruitful environment for a quality transaction. This is just one more reason that training and development is critical to the success of a credit union. (For a more in-depth discussion on T&D, please read Chapter Eight of The New Emerging Credit Union World: Theory, Process, Practice–Cases & Application).

Wendell Fountain

Wendell Fountain

Dr. Wendell V. Fountain has been President/Principal Consultant of Fountain & Associates Business & Management Consultants since 1984. Wendell is a credit union strategist, speaker, and author. He has ... Web: Details