Three simple solutions to make change stick

by Sarah Marshall, North Side Community Federal Credit Union

The calendar recently turned a page over to 2019.  Even if you are not someone that personally sets goals and resolutions for the new year, most of us do feel some type of collective relief at the close of a year. If we had a good year, we can celebrate what we have accomplished, and if we had a bad year we can remind ourselves that we have a chance to start over.  Not everything changes with the turn of a calendar, but our balance sheets get a fresh start (with evidence of performance of prior years!). However, no matter what our best intentions are, this year will be similar to many prior unless changes are made, and the new season is an opportune time to take advantage of a sense of renewal to make those changes.

Change does not happen with intention alone because it is too easy to slip back into routines and habits that have become well established and comfortable. This applies to organizational culture as well. Your credit union has developed a culture that won’t evolve without concentrated direction or effort or else a disruptive event. There are a few methods of creating minor disruptions that will help your 2019 initiatives and plans move forward.

Change physical layout of spaces: Simple changes like moving furniture around to create a different environment helps facilitate new expectations. Fixed objects can be moved to make spaces more conducive to collaboration, or privacy, dependent on the objectives.  A fresh coat of paint can renew workspaces just like the feeling you get after purging your junk drawers. People respond to physical environment in less conscious ways, but making these changes can make a difference in how people feel about their workplace. Make sure your physical objects set the tone for the culture you want to build.

Change communication channels: Communication is one of those constant top ten organizational challenges. To make a change initiative effective, evaluate your communication processes. Do you give most of your updates in early morning staff meetings where people aren’t fully engaged? Do you send too many emails? Or maybe your credit union’s sticking point is that not enough people are getting the information they need. Figure out what type of channel might improve communication, and what methods will work well enough for them to be used frequently. A new communication channel is great, but it also needs to be utilized consistently.

Change decision making and reporting structures: Yes, this includes promoting people as needed or deserved but is not limited to mixing up the organizational chart. It may mean empowering people in member services to make more of the decisions that benefit a member, or giving a designated person on a lending team extra authority for exceptions or a second look at an account. Rethink workflow in terms of who makes decisions about what, and develop a plan that maximizes both efficiency and autonomy.

Making one or two of these changes may fail on their own, and it often takes making multiple adjustments for people to realize as a team that they need adapt and develop new ways of doing things. Process change can be uncomfortable, but forces people to form new ways of doing things. There are many more excellent strategies for creating change that are not included here, but the key is clarity that there is a new approach to business and member service!

Sarah Marshall

Sarah Marshall

Sarah Marshall is a consultant in the credit union industry, and can be reached for partnership and speaking opportunities through Your Credit Union Partner. Her background in community development includes ... Web: Details