How Member One Finds And Fosters Internal Talent

The completion of bi-annual dream sheets ensures employees at the Virginia cooperative take charge of their own career advancement.
Drew Grossman

In October 2014, the senior team members at Member One Federal Credit Union ($665.2M, Roanoke, VA) orchestrated an homage to the pop-country musician Taylor Swift. They learned Swift’s moves and the words to her new song Shake It Off and recorded the team singing and dancing through the office. Everyone from the administrative assistant to the CEO was ready to perform, and because of the dream sheets the credit union keeps on every employee, it even knew whom to tap to film the video vice president of compliance and videographer, Jason Specht.


MEMBER ONE Credit Union
data as of 09.30.14

  • HQ: Roanoke, VA
  • ASSETS: $665.2M
  • EMPLOYEES: 198
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 9.7%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 19.1%
  • ROA: 1.18%

In the spring and fall, Member One employees complete talent profiles that include basic information like current roles and responsibilities as well as their educational background and skills. The credit union stores these profiles in a three-ringed binder located in the office of chief administration officer Kim Braswell. However, the book is such a valuable tool, it’s rarely there. Leaders use it to find hidden talents, skills, and desires within the institution’s employees.

It’s an opportunity to learn about employees we may not see on a regular basis, Braswell says.

In addition to biographical basics, the sheets delve into conceptual questions such as: What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? In what areas would you like to improve?

Member One employees started filling out dream sheets in 2009 one year after Braswell came to Member One from Grow Financial Credit Union in Florida as part of a new culture CEO Frank Carter is creating.

It gives every employee in the company the ability to tell us their credentials and explain the job they’re doing, Carter says. More importantly, we learn if there is another job or department the person is interested in.

We use it as our candidate pool. From a succession planning standpoint, I expect all our senior executives to reach out to people interested in their area.

Dream sheets keep employees engaged and career-focused. They also help senior members identify three things: Employees who are qualified for promotion, developmental training gaps, and positions that don’t exist at the credit union but should.

Talent Right Under Its Nose

When Member One has job openings, the senior team and hiring managers use dream sheets to match talent and desire with opportunities at the credit union. For example, like if a front-office employee like a teller or loan officer is interested in moving to a back-office role like accounting or market analysis.

I always caution people, be careful what you put in there because you might get it, Carter says.

And for those employees that want to stay in their current role or career path, Member One encourages them to note that on their dream sheet. A dream sheet isn’t meant to make every employee shift careers, it’s to help employees actively manage their careers. It creates pride in the job because it ensures people are working in the one they want.

We use it as our candidate pool, says Jean Hopstetter, chief operating officer. From a succession planning standpoint, I expect all our senior executives to reach out to people interested in their area.

Those executives should be asking if a particular position became available, would the employee be interested in it. Hopstetter refers to this as pre-interviewing, and it starts with dream sheets.

A Tool For Training

Employees at Member One don’t move around haphazardly, switch jobs, or get promoted because of a few sentences on their dream sheets. In order to make a move, employees must be qualified. That’s why the dream sheet includes a section on developmental needs. For example, an employee might recognize they need sales or IT training to qualify for a promotion or lateral move between departments.

We thought there was something there, so we asked her to sell us on the job.

Through dream sheets, the senior team sees what training sessions it needs to offer.

The dream sheets help us determine if there are classes we need to build, if it’s appropriate for our workforce, Hopstetter says. How can we best prepare individuals for their next role?

Member One has developed a reputation as a place where people can build a career rather than simply fulfill a role. In return, senior management asks employees to manage their own careers. This means filling out the dream sheet, finding positions or departments that interest them, and learning about the training they need to take the next step in their careers.

The Potential Of The Dream Sheet

Member One has an interesting position in its vice president of engagement. Formerly called the vice president of corporate culture, the job is to inspire Member One employees to live the company’s culture.

That idea and job description came from a dream sheet.

The dream sheet asks employees to describe their dream job. In 2010, a branch manager named LeAnne Gill said her dream job was to be a corporate culture cheerleader. She thought it was a role that would benefit the credit union.

A lot of people might look at that and say that’s just pure overhead, forget it, Hopstetter says. We thought there was something there, so we asked her to sell us on the job.

She was successful, and Member One has had a vice president of corporate culture now vice president of engagement for three-and-a-half years. She does a variety of things including one-on-one training and leadership and coaching sessions. She also doles out doughnuts, hot chocolate, and smoothies to Member One employees.

What started as a sentence on a Member One dream sheet became a bona fide dream job for Gill.

November 24, 2014

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