Invisible. That’s how I’ve felt at several meetings at credit unions, listening to a leadership team go back and forth on the wants and needs of millennial women without bothering to ask the one millennial woman in the room her thoughts on the subject.
We humans have some pretty interesting tendencies, and one I’ve seen a lot of recently is the proclivity to take our own assumptions or feelings, turn them into facts, believe those facts, and then run our credit unions based on them. In action, this looks like marketing products and services to the people we “think” want them, offering branch hours we “think” are accommodating, or rolling out the technology tools we “think” our members are clamoring for.
As bold, brave, forward-thinking leaders, we would never want to fall into this trap, right? We wouldn’t want to GUESS our way into overcoming the obstacles we face at our credit union! So, what’s the secret sauce in combatting this phenomenon? We get curious and ask one question… “Who is in the room?”
The next time you find yourself in a board or staff meeting lamenting the “lack of loyalty” millennials have to businesses, look to see if there is a millennial in the room and ask if that rings true for them. If you’re rolling out a new youth account program and evaluating incentives, look to see if there is a young mother in the room and ask her what might motivate her child to save more. If your dream is truly to serve ALL the people in your field of membership, look to see what kind of diversity is in the room – racial, ability, size, and more. Ask yourself what stories you may not be hearing because you haven’t invited the right people to the table.
The room, of course, goes beyond the one you’re in. It should include multiple perspectives and experiences including everything from the team you’ve assembled, to your board of directors, to specially formed advisory boards or focus groups, to the marketing materials you’re distributing, to member feedback surveys.
Finding the answers to the problems you want to solve is already tough; why make the process harder by relying only on a limited field of perspective? When you’re faced with one of these dilemmas, take a look at who is in the room. And, subsequently, you just might get answers rather than assumptions.