How to shape your credit union’s culture

Whether or not it has been consciously identified, every company has a corporate culture. And while there’s no physical presence, it subtly influences the entire organization and drives the actions and decisions of your team. Maybe it’s characterized by change, and is therefore dynamic. Maybe it’s aggressive and focused on growth. Possibly, it is focused on being cutting edge, or branded by providing the best customer service. Or less positively, it is characterized by upheaval, unpredictability and chaos.

Employees might define your culture as happy or hostile, as fast paced or plodding, as interactive or boring, so it can have a profound impact on employee satisfaction, engagement, everyday operations and the bottom line. Culture can, and should, be a mindful choice, though in many organizations it develops in response to management or industry changes.

What creates a corporate culture?

A company’s culture is generally dictated by leadership. When things are good, a corporate culture is created by vision, choice and planning. Management decides where they want the company to go and how they want it to get there. In less ideal situations, a corporate culture is created in reaction to something: fear of change, a quick response to industry shifts, a need for strict control.  

If it works, maintain it.

When an organization has a clear vision about their culture, and the culture works, it’s much easier to use that to ensure positive growth and endure the tough times. Why? Because the employees know what is expected. They feel secure, and they feel included as contributors to their company’s successes. To maintain a successful corporate culture, it is important to:

  • Create a mission statement: Identify the touchstone, the most important value or element of your company, and create a mission statement around it.
  • Communicate your mission to all employees.
  • Make sure it is more than words: Don’t just say it, have policies and procedures that back it up. Reward people whose actions support your company’s vision.
  • Hire people who can fit in: Every employee brings a little something new and different to the table, but make sure the people you hire can agree to and fit in with your culture.
  • Be prepared to change/grow: Times and situations change, struggling to maintain a culture that no longer works can create its own chaos. Be mindful of changes, communicate with members and employees and be flexible.

If it doesn’t work, change it.

A corporate culture marked by paranoia, low morale, high turnover and tight management restrictions doesn’t work. Such a situation results in unproductive employees, absenteeism and high recruiting and retraining costs. If you notice signs of a sickly corporate culture, there are some steps you can take to change it:

  • Identify the problem(s): Talk to your employees in a safe environment and listen to them. Solicit anonymous feedback. Perform extensive exit interviews. Check out the highest turnover areas. Ask people what they would do to change it, and be prepared to implement viable solutions.
  • Define where you want your company to be: Besides being profitable, what do you want for your organization? What do you want your customers to think of when they see your name?
  • Create a mission statement, and communicate it your employees.
  • Implement changes that will support your mission, and be prepared for some bumps in the road. Change isn’t easy, and some people will resist, but the dangers of maintaining the status quo might be far greater than the risks of trying new things.
  • Discover current employees who can get you there, or coach them to be what you need.
  • Hire people who will contribute to the change you want: Once you know where you are going, recruit people who share your vision.

Need help training or hiring people to fit with your corporate culture? Contact your Omnia Client Advisor to review your cultural preferences and discuss training and hiring options.

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt, a popular seminar speaker, is the SVP at The Omnia Group.  She offers clients advice on how to manage more effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, weaknesses ... Web: www.omniagroup.com Details

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