The next generation of leaders, who may have not yet reached executive level, are becoming more influential in organizational success. Recognizing that young professionals are proving to be the lifeblood of successful organizations; State leagues and associations offer an artillery of benefits and resources to get them where they want to go.
At the Louisiana Credit Union League (LCUL), we recognized early on that not only was there a void in the industry for young professionals to network, but our industry also lacked a platform to help with their overall understanding of the movement. As a result, LCUL took the lead in creating one of the most dynamic networks of young credit union professionals – more than 400 members strong! We are proud to join a long list of state trade associations who have formed similar communities that strive to expose young professionals to credit union values with the goal of developing them into credit union champions.
What we’ve learned…
A successful paragon of our industry’s philosophy of cooperation and collaboration, leagues and associations regularly share best practices. A hot topic of late is the key components to successfully grooming the next generation of leaders. Some of the things we collectively agreed on:
- Use them as a resource…and vice versa. An environment where they can learn from industry leaders is ideal, but young professionals also want to share their ideas and opinions. Create an environment where conversations can be beneficial for everyone. This helps establish a level of respect for one another and what each has to offer. In my personal experience, they are a great sounding board during strategic planning as trends move at rapid pace. They also served as a lightning rod to help seasoned professionals like myself reconnect with why I love what I do.
- Volunteer Opportunities. They’re looking to be a part of something bigger than themselves. This is the perfect opportunity for younger employees to interact with the community while engaging with the credit unions core values all at the same time. It’s a win-win.
- Networking is everything. We must keep them engaged year-round. The constant connection helps build their relationships as well as their skill set and industry knowledge. And not just networking with peers, but anyone in the business arena that can build their personal brand.
- Resources for overall development. Yes, it is important to establish what the credit union philosophy is all about and the critical issues that we face. However, it’s just as important to help them grow in the general business arena, such as resume writing and business etiquette.
From Ideas to Actions…
Leagues play a formative role in engaging young professionals in a variety of ways, providing essentials that will grow our young professionals into credit union champions.
- The Louisiana Credit Union League flipped the CRASH concept, holding a “reverse crash” at the annual YP conference. A handful of ‘seasoned’ conference attendees had the chance to weigh in on the discussions. Reverse crashers learned just as much, if not more, than from the young professionals in attendance.
- The Carolinas Credit Union League developed the CUaware Protégé Mentor program, providing credit union professionals in the Carolinas an opportunity to be paired with a mentor from a league-affiliated credit union.
- YP Leads is open to Northwest Credit Union Association member credit union employees who identify as young professionals. Official YP Leads serve as ambassadors for the movement over a year by committing to serve as a strong credit union advocate by attending an advocacy event or championing local advocacy efforts. More than just a social networking initiative, program participants are exposed to the real issues affecting our industry.
- Volunteering is the core of all young professional communities and is nearly impossible to list them all. One special example is Oregon’s Pack for Parents. Often parents are blindsided by unexpected and indefinite stays at the hospital. To help alleviate the stress, they packed 300 “overnight” packs to help make their extended stay a little more tolerable.
- Need a little guidance? The League of Southeastern Credit Union provides a young professional resource page that includes YPG Networking Events Guide and YPG Community Outreach Guide.
- Like many other leagues, the Virginia Credit Union League hosts an annual YP Workshop strictly dedicated to young professionals. While they discuss issues and topics that matter most within the credit union system, the event also provides guidance for overall professional development applicable in any profession.
- Cornerstone Credit Union League has their young professionals“takeover” a local chapter meeting, volunteering not only their time, but their ideas, in front of a mixed audience.
These are just a few examples of league efforts facilitating engagement and development. You can see that our young professional collaboration initiatives offer just about everything they need to rally around the credit union movement.
If you are a seasoned credit union executive, I urge you to make the investment in your young professionals like your associations have. I promise you will see their passion firsthand as they play a significant role in championing issues that impact the future of our industry. Reach out to your league and ask how they can help you in this effort.
If you are a young professional reading this, congratulations on finding yourself in what I believe to be an incredibly special industry! I encourage you to visit your League’s website or contacting a League representative to learn more about young professional initiatives. And don’t be shy about asking the appropriate executive at your credit union to support your participation; my experience tells me they will appreciate your imitative and commitment to credit unions.
Regardless of your tenure in the movement, you can help our efforts to retain talent within our movement for the long-term prosperity of credit unions.