Empowering your credit union team

by: Lana J. Chandler

Empowerment is allowing employees to make day-to-day decisions that affect their job duties, within guidelines and parameters established by management,” explains Gayla R. Sherry, president of Gayla R. Sherry Associates in Edmond, Oklahoma. When leaders effectively empower employees, the organization reaps multiple benefits such as improved client service, more productivity in performing job duties, better teamwork, self-motivated teams, and creative problem solving.

Empowerment—done correctly—can impact your bottom line. Clients and employees are more likely to stay with your organization when they don’t have to waste time and effort jumping a lot of hoops for every decision. “If an employee is trained, authorized and empowered to make decisions, generally the client will achieve his/her goal expeditiously. For example, if an employee can make a decision ‘on-the-spot,’ the client does not have to wait for management approval, which in some cases can be miles away. Also, the employee’s morale is likely to be high, as the employee will have a comprehensive understanding of how his/her work affects the ‘big picture,’” says Sherry.

Real-World Examples

“As a customer, I really resent a customer service person who has to go to the supervisor for every decision, even when it is a small issue. I had a problem with the dry cleaners as they lost an outfit. I asked for a refund, and the cashier had to ask a supervisor. After I waited, the cashier told me they don’t do refunds but just credit the account,” Sherry continues. “This seems to me to be an area ripe for empowerment, with guidelines of price, how long the customer has done business, if it was clearly the cleaners’ fault, etc.”

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