Son of a nutcracker: Credit union leadership lessons from Buddy the Elf

Walk with me through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly-twirly gum drops, and then all the way through the Lincoln Tunnel to learn a few lessons credit union CEO’s and leaders can apply to their credit union this holiday season….

“I just like to smile; smiling’s my favorite.”

The holidays can be stressful. Don’t forget to remind your Member Service Representatives about the importance of their attitude and appearance.  Body language is extremely important when it comes to making first impressions and maintaining good member relationships. The 7%-38%-55% rule gives three elements that inform first impressions and earn trust: Words are 7% of the message, tone of voice is 38%, and body language is 55%. Remind MSRs that, while what they say is important, 93% of their interactions are perceived by tone, attitude and nonverbal cues. So be sure they are smiling. If your branch reminds members of Santa’s workshop…except it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt them…. then it’s time to have a talk with your MSR’s.

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”

Perhaps your credit union had a banner year, or is excited about new offerings. Don’t assume that members will instinctively know about the news. Promote your accomplishments and your offerings. Have MSR’s talk about these new services to members and show them how to use them. This is a great time of year to show members how to use remote controls for credit and debit cards, for example! For members who don’t come into the branch, use social media to tout awards or to highlight services that will make members’ lives easier, such as mobile lending. Consider a video to demonstrate how it works!

“You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee! Great job, everybody! It’s great to be here.”

A little encouragement can go a long way. Acknowledge when a credit union employee is doing a great job. While Christmas bonuses are not always in the cards, a token of appreciation and recognition for their efforts goes a long way in building employee morale. The more appreciated an employee feels, the better member services they will provide.

“We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.”

A Credit Union should offer services their members truly need and stick to their core competencies. Don’t be swayed by shiny new toys that take away from your brand. What works best for your credit union may not work well for others, and vice versa. Training employees on products that they know members won’t buy into is a waste of time for both you and your employees, and members may perceive you are out of touch. Focus on what you know will work and what members want, employees will be happy to support products that members love.

“I’m sorry I ruined your lives and crammed 11 cookies into the VCR.”

For some people it’s a great time of year, but others may struggle with stress or depression during this season. Especially if they have had a rough year or lost someone they love, the holidays can cause employees to not bring their best to work every day. If you have employees in this situation, cut them a little slack when they make a mistake, and show a little extra effort and reach out to them individually. In other words, don’t be a cotton-headed ninny-muggins.

When it comes to working with employees during the holidays, offering advice, reminding them of best practices, and giving them encouragement will make you a better leader. Like the narwhal who left Buddy with these words of support: “Bye Buddy, hope your find your dad!

Preston Packer

Preston Packer

Preston Packer is the Director of Sales & Marketing for FLEX. Preston has been with FLEX since 2000 and has worked in various sales management roles over that time. Preston’... Web: Details