Increased clarity grows CU cultures and bottom lines

Have you ever scrambled to find reading glasses before a meeting, so you can clearly see the balance sheet, net worth ratios, the latest concentration limits and/or efficiency ratios? We put readers on, so we can avoid squinting and not work so hard to see what’s right in front of us. With new lenses, everything suddenly comes into view. The same holds true for executive team clarity. When we find clarity, we not only see more clearly, but we also make better decisions, and execute more effectively and efficiently.

If you’re looking to grow your credit union culture and bottom line, it’s vital to get clarity around these six important questions:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How will we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What’s most important right now?
  6. Who will do what?

Many may say, “That’s easy. We pretty much know the answers to most of those.” You very well may. My experience in leading 2-day Organizational Health Kick-offs and Journeys with executive teams; however, has demonstrated that despite having strategic plans, values, differentiators, and project lists, executive teams often still struggle with true alignment around these questions.

It’s not that presidents, CEOs, and executive teams aren’t strategic, competent, and tenacious. They are. They also work smartly toward end-goals.

It’s that today’s environments, coupled with natural team cohesion issues, make the road to alignment fuzzy. Economic pressures, competing priorities, resourcing challenges, security concerns, and more leave teams at odds regarding what should take priority, and who should be on first, second, and third. Differentiators and strategic anchors, values, and purpose — along with role clarity — aren’t completely forgotten, but under pressure, they don’t necessarily combine to work how they could potentially work with maximum alignment.

What’s potent about these six questions, as first laid out by Patrick Lencioni in The Advantage — is how the combination of them together can motivate and guide decision-making – especially when team cohesion is addressed. Having your executive team see clearly is one of the best ways to ensure success during times of constant change.

What are some of the critical derivative outcomes?

  • Minimal Politics
  • Minimal Confusion
  • High Productivity
  • High Morale, and
  • Low Turnover

When these five signs of organizational health are humming, strategies, operations, lending, finance, and marketing can operate up to 3X to 4X stronger, according to the Smart/Healthy model.

To fully realize this, teams need full cohesion, overcommunication, and human systems in place to reinforce the clarity that executive teams find. With clarity, everything comes into focus and executives can leverage their strengths in powerful, new ways. There even seems to be an inverse relationship between stress levels and bottom lines as far as clarity is concerned. As stress levels drop, bottom lines grow. Clarity is that powerful.

Putting on new lenses may be exactly what you need. In the interim, here are four tips to get you started, as team cohesion is crucial in helping set the stage:

  • Prioritizing team cohesion: Teams with trust, healthy conflict, solid agreements, and accountability garner the best results. The foundation of trust is what grounds teams, and it’s not the type of “I know what you’re going to say” trust. It’s vulnerability-based, being able to say, “I messed up” or “I made a big mistake” or “I don’t’ know the answer” trust. It’s the type of trust where no one fears speaking up and everyone on the team feels they can be 100 percent themselves without any fear of retribution.
  • Prioritizing prioritization: Silos are the enemy of prioritization. If healthy conflict isn’t happening at the executive level (due to “Artificial Harmony”), leaders below are left to fight unnecessary battles. Make sure to have tough conversations at the executive level and clearly communicate prioritization decisions.
  • Understanding accountability: It’s vital to know that accountability and blame are not one in the same. Check yourself to see if you’re inquiring first about why a deadline was missed, or something isn’t happening. Often, unclear expectations, missed communications, lack of buy-in (due to healthy conflict), and/or more may be involved that require further investigation. It doesn’t mean that individuals should never be held responsible, it simply means that outright blaming and a lack of curiosity does not foster growth nor a healthy organization.
  • Learning about change: As you lead and manage through change, learn about the effects of it, so you can understand the stages, and can better assist your executive team in supporting their direct reports. Just like with the six questions, being able to see and communicate clearly about change will provide you and your organization with an advantage. If you already know about change management, be sure to leverage your knowledge.

Are you ready to see more clearly?

Deborah Mersino

Deborah Mersino

Principal Consultant Deborah Mersino of Mersino Consulting supports leaders of credit unions and other purpose-driven organizations in growing organizational health and achieving ambitious results. She can be reached at Deborah@... Web: Details