Steps to build a culture of learning

How we work is changing. With more digital tools, video technology, and virtual environments, credit unions are experiencing change at a faster and faster pace. This is impacting how business is conducted as well as what members expect when it comes to service options. 

All of these changes bring a learning curve as credit unions strive to stay relevant. What is currently serving your members well today, does not necessarily mean it will in the future. By focusing on building and enhancing a culture of learning, credit unions are able to be adaptable and more nimble. A learning culture taps into what engages, motivates, and excites employees by empowering them to master new skills, that ultimately benefit the member experience.  

Current challenges that prevent credit unions from implementing a culture of learning include: 

  • Being too business-focused rather than employee-focused
  • Constraints around creating an environment that meets different types of learning styles
  • Overcoming skepticism and cynicism in the value of training investments
  • Finding and granting time to coach or attend employee training sessions

However, overcoming these challenges and taking steps to build a learning culture at your credit union can have great benefits that ultimately lead to expanded business opportunities. The following steps highlight important components to begin this journey:  

  1. Set clear learning initiatives to maximize performance

Offer employees the opportunity to engage more intentionally in their roles and skillsets. This reiterates that learning and re-learning is an impactful process that helps employees progress in their role as well as career.  

Key Steps: 

    • Establish a ‘why:’ Everyone needs to know the larger business goals and how their role contributes to those in order to effectively leverage learning and development opportunities. 
    • Set measurable goals: Clarify goals that can be measured for progress. When an employee is striving to reach a goal, they are more likely to embrace the tools provided that can help get them there. 
  1. Enhance member support with relationship-building

A culture of learning can help with member retention and loyalty by ensuring employees are delivering a consistent message and experience across roles, departments, and functions. This is more important now than ever as we embrace new challenges around managing teams across multiple locations. It is also important to deliver the same message internally. By building relationships internally, credit unions can increase knowledge sharing opportunities across teams and departments and increase a core sense of ‘belonging.’ This is a critical component in building a strong business culture. 

Key Steps:

    • Develop or purchase proven training programs: This facilitates a learning environment that helps foster relationships and important context to apply across roles. 
    • Invest in coaching resources: By providing coaches the tools and resources to hold effective 1-1 conversations, employees can receive regular feedback and insight in their performance.
  1. Leverage multiple communication channels

With increased adoption of digital tools, there are increasingly more channels available to communicate: in-person, phone, email, chat, text, social media, video, AI, and more! Whether it’s to train, explain, be social, or update, it is important to consider your objectives and desired outcomes prior to engaging (internally or externally).  

To have ongoing effectiveness, leaders may need to shift towards an outcome-oriented mindset, be open-minded about new communication channels, and adapt their process in order to include new channels. In the same way there are different learners, we also consume, engage with, and retain information in different ways.

Key Steps

    • Set context: The context behind the message impacts what tech or communication tools may be best for action and adoption. 
    • Don’t simply use the technology because it’s available: Understand and learn best practices in order to increase effectiveness.
  1. Emphasize a positive work environment 

Building a culture of learning in your credit union emphasizes the importance of growth in a role and celebrates when resources are utilized for personal, team, and department improvement. A learning-driven culture helps employee stay engaged and motivated in their roles as they are challenged to make changes and enhancements, and then are celebrated for their success. This helps support business objectives, team spirit and ultimately translates into positive member experiences.

Key Steps

    • Reward motivation: By recognizing and celebrating successes, employees will feel happier and more successful in their roles. 
    • Foster collaboration: This helps establish a team-driven culture that is working together toward united goals. 

In summary, the best way to grow your business is to grow your people.

Julie ann Wessinger

Julie ann Wessinger

Julie ann is Allied Solutions' National Director of Client Performance Strategies. Client Performance Strategies represents "best of class" organizations that provide proven solutions to measurably impact credit union sales, membership ... Web: Details