Most credit unions successes depend on the knowledge and motivation
of their front line staff. However, keeping staff informed of the
myriad of product and service changes is a never ending challenge.
Moreover, training in the traditional classroom format or via three
ring reference binders doesnt easily address different learning
needs and capabilities. For some time we have been looking for a
more effective way to meet this continuing need.
Although it is not exactly new, we are using computer-based training
in a way that is helping us to achieve training efficiencies. With
a full range of product offerings, keeping up on product features
and benefits is difficult for seasoned as well as new employees.
We have a reference manual that has all the information in it, but
it is about as much fun to read as a telephone book.
We looked for a new way to make product updates interesting and
effective. We found a vendor to help us produce a CD ROM that was
totally customized for our use. It comes with a script to help employees
gain a deeper understanding of features, benefits and suggested
strategies for matching needs.
All employees are issued headsets so they do not distract others
while the training is underway. The module takes about six hours
to complete and is followed by a test.
Testing: A Key Step
Testing has helped employees at all levels identify gaps in understanding.
Because it is self-paced, it is available when the employee has
time to look at it, and it does not require an instructor to be
present to deliver the material. It gives a consistent message with
further help screens for additional explanation and understanding.
It also incorporates concepts from the CUNA Mutual Business Development
Sales Training (BDST), which we adopted several years ago.
To deliver the full benefit, a number of people must be involved.
Several years ago we formalized the role of resource employees
who were selected by their peers. They are resident experts and
are available to answer questions on the spot.
Besides the student and resource employees, other areas are affected.
All updates to the product manual are made by the marketing department
and training sends them to the vendor who then produces a new CD
ROM. Branch managers and training coordinators work together to
schedule training, and information services coordinates the technology.
Our use has been limited to the product knowledge module. Other
applications would include new employee orientation, teller training,
consumer education and leadership training.
Branch Assistant II Program
We are piloting a program to create a career path for front-line
staff members through demonstrating competencies. Our compensation
system is under review to reward employees based on their demonstrated
competencies. As that program develops, computer based training
and testing can be useful for employees qualifying at each of the
PCs must be equipped with the proper software to handle the audio
and visual portions of the program. We are using a thin client approach
and pushing out the information through a server to the PCs at all
branches and front-line positions.
The next level approach is web-based training. Updates can be more
efficiently incorporated and PCs will only require Internet access
and web browser capability. We will use a vendor to host the system
rather than manage it ourselves.
Stephan Winninger is President of State Employees Credit Union
in Lansing, MI. SECU is a $523 million credit union with 220 employees,
nine branches and forty ATMs serving 73,500 members in South Central
Michigan. Steve has been with SECU for ten years.