I recently had a lively conversation with a credit union friend about missed professional/workplace opportunities due to fear or resistance to change. We each detailed experience we’ve had and what we learned from them. It also included situations we frequently see among our credit union colleagues. Common and reoccurring themes that emerged from our conversation included:
- Human Resource Roadblocks – There are people in our organizations who “need to go.“ Their attitude, quality of work, and commitment suck the very life out of everyone on the team. Leadership’s inability to address these issues is costing their team and organization dearly. If you’re the leader responsible for this “drain” on your organization, step up and make the change that’s needed – even if there’s fear of critique from the Board or even the members (some of these drains are beloved by members). That’s never a justification for consistently bad performance that undermines your success.
- Outdated Processes or Technology – There are a lot of unhappy and frustrated credit union people who complain a lot about poor technology, service, and systems, but are unwilling to make the investment to change to something better. I get it: big investments for new systems, due diligence, creating vendor relationships, and training require a lot of money, time, and effort. I’m frequently amazed at the opportunity (income, growth, better service) losses I see from credit unions unwilling to make technology changes when they need to.
- Toxic Cultures – Many of us have had the experience of being trapped in toxic credit union culture – good people who were once motivated and saw a great future ahead who’ve had the will to live pounded out of them by ineffective and weak leaders who allow the toxicity to occur. I always hold leaders accountable for toxic cultures. They set the tone and own it. People who are trapped in these cultures need to get the heck out of there. I’ve been in this position before; I understand the fear of the unknown. “Where will I go?” “What will I do?” I’ve made the justification that it will get better. I’ve stayed and watched my quality of life go down the drain. I waited too long, but I finally took a leap of faith. It was stressful, I won’t lie. But I can say, hands down, it’s worth it.
Are you ready to make a change?
Here are four signs you might be ready to make a change:
- Motivation – If you feel your motivation to do things you enjoy is ebbing, it might be time to make a change. Try to identify what’s draining your motivation and remove the obstacle. There’s nothing more demotivating than working with chronic underperformers and people who could care less.
- Stress – If your stress is higher than normal, it might be because you’re working hard for better results, but consistently lack the tools (technology, systems, people) you need to get the job done. The stress won’t go away until you can move or deflect the obstacle(s) in your way.
- Keep up – If the world around you is changing and you’re not keeping up, it probably means you need to make a change. Fear and resistance to change hold us back. If you see the world passing you by, you might want to make some changes before it’s too late.
- Anxious – If you live in a constant state of anxiety or fear, it’s time to make a change. Credit union work isn’t always easy. It’s a career full of deadlines, challenges, and change. But, with the occasional exception (anxiety created by an exam), work should not create constant anxiety or fear. If it does, you need to evaluate whether you’re at the right place and you might need to make a change.
Why it matters
We operate in one of the most competitive industries on the planet. Our ability to successfully compete will depend on our ability to embrace and manage change. It’s simple: we don’t have a time to spend on ineffective systems, products, or people. Things are never perfect, but we need to have a reasonable chance to win. Thriving in credit union land isn’t easy, and it’s usually a lot of hard work – but if you get to win once in a while, the hard work is worth it. Because at the end of the day, people (members, communities, staff) are better off when we succeed.
Changing your situation isn’t easy, but it’s worth it!