Step Into My Shoes: Credit Union’s Job Shadow Initiative

US Federal Credit Union’s Step Into My Shoes program develops its workforce.

by Julie Knudson

A new program at US Federal Credit Union, Burnsville, Minn., is piquing people’s interest. Through the Step Into My Shoes job shadowing initiative, employees at the CU are able to select a role or functional area they want to learn more about, and be paired with one or more fellow employees who can help them gain additional knowledge.

Launched in early 2013, the program is already producing results through greater employee engagement and improved operational efficiencies. Unlike other programs that simply match employees with mentors, the team at $895 million/69,000-member US FCU has carefully crafted the Step Into My Shoes initiative to maximize the benefits for employees and to help them make the most out of what is still a rather unique opportunity.

Before participants (shadowers) are hooked up with a partner (shadowee), they must first work with their manager to put together a comprehensive plan that outlines what they want to achieve. “They will actually list out which area of the credit union they want to observe, and what their goals are for the experience,” says Cole Hahn, VP/human resources and organizational development. If employees don’t have a clear picture of the what and why of their participation, Hahn says it isn’t a deal breaker—managers have received specialized training to help guide folks on the details.

Three Purposes

She explains the program was created at the request of employees as well as managers, and that it has three primary purposes: career development, career exploration and job enhancement. For the career development arm of the program, Hahn says employees are able to shadow positions that would often be their next logical career step. This allows them to chart a more informed course for their career. They’re also able to consider potential career paths in a safe environment. “They can explore other areas of the credit union to determine if they would like to pursue an opportunity in that area” without committing to any one position or group, Hahn explains.

When it comes to job enhancement, the Step Into My Shoes program benefits not only employees but the CU as a whole. Staff members are able to learn the responsibilities and workflows of other groups in the organization, which often enhances the skills they can apply in their current role.

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