Work For The Long Haul

A culture change is a major undertaking and a CEO needs to be its champion.
David Tate

Henry, I believe you are on the right course. It seems to me you have a solid membership and although you did not discuss your credit union’s core deposits, my guess is you canlikely grow your wallet share among them.

You have to understand that a culture change is a major undertaking and a great deal of work. You have to be its champion, and the senior staff and board have to buy intoit. Check your board closely. It’s a good sign that new blood coming into the board will likely go along with this culture change and that the dynamicbranch manageris a sales culture leader. But make doubly sure the senior people are behind this. If they are not, then the move is going to fail.

In accordance with the above, the senior team should come out as a group and verbally let the staff know they are behind the change 100%. And they have to impress on everyone that they, the middle management, and the front line have to work as one.

Look for an outside group that can help you promote the new culture. Such a group can help teach your staff the difference between taking orders and looking out for the best interests of the members,that is, people who make sure the members are getting the right services to improve their financial lives.

What scares most credit union staff people is they think management wants to turn them into used car salesmen stereotypes, people who push products that are not a good match for the member. Training is needed to show this is not the intent of the sales culture. Quite the opposite; it is meant to deliver the products and services that best match a member’s individual needs.

A good trainer will look at where the staff is presently and work from there. Everyone needs to buy into the notion that change is inevitable products change, technology changes, and approaches to delivering products and services change. Moving to a sales culture is just one of those changes.

One of the toughest things, of course, is dealing with a person who does not want to change. In any group there is likely to be some of these. It is helpful to find the person who at first resisted change, then accepted it. This person can be held upto all the others who are reluctant. Likely you have a small enough staff that everyone knows one another and the word will get around. Get the buy in from some who were at first reluctant and things will go more smoothly with everyone else.

Put off incentives for a while. First you have to think about why you are incenting and for what. You are also going to have to establish baselines for the productsand services. Otherwise you are not going to know what your staff is capable of without incentives, and you don’t want to incent for what staff would normally do. If you want your tellers to refer people, there first has to be a way to measureif they are referring people. And take account of the fact that there is a difference between a referral and a closed loan. It doesn’t do the credit union much good to have a lot of referrals for cases that don’t close.

Another metric is determining how you are serving yourselves internally, that is, how cooperation among staff is moving the culture change. Metrics caneven cover the people in the support departments after all, they have to deliver the right information so the front line can do the work of informing the members of the most appropriate products and services. Everyone should be working towarda common good.

If you can’t develop the proper metrics, change is much more difficult. Your core system or add-ons to your core system might be able to help here. When we started our journey toward a sales culture we partnered with a third party. They helped developmetrics that have worked for us. There a number of groups who concentrate on sales and service training. Do your homework; talk with several. They are the experts, not you. They have the tools and training that can help the staff make the change.Don’t try to climb this mountain using your own guidance; get help from people who have been through it before and know best practices.

And Henry, take note: Changing to a sales culture is work for the long haul. It’s not a switch-on-it’s-done kind of thing; it’s a slow process. Good luck.

June 4, 2014

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