Does your credit union have a set of core values? Is there a set of core beliefs and habits that your employees live by on the job? If not, there should be. Successful organizations have them, and every credit union should have them.
Core values define a company’s corporate culture - from the way employees dress, to the way they serve their customers, to their attitude about their employers. Dell Computer Corporation, Toyota, Southwest Airlines, Google, Zappos.com and thousands of others have a set of values which define the way they do business. What defines the way your credit union does business?
Every organization has a corporate culture whether they realize it or not. Some are fun. Some are serious. Some are innovative. Some are bureaucratic. Some are intentional. Many are not. The way your leaders do or do not empower employees is your corporate culture. The way employees are trained or not trained is your corporate culture. The way employees are allowed to treat members is your corporate culture.
Culture matters for one very important reason. Your members experience your corporate culture even when it’s not clearly defined internally. They experience employee morale. They know whether or not your employees like working at your credit union. They can feel the level of value placed on their membership. That’s not something you want to leave to chance, is it?
Think of it this way. If your credit union doesn’t stand for something, it stands for nothing. Your values are what your credit union stand for, and that is different for every organization. Perhaps it is making members happy at any expense or delivering innovative products and services that defy traditional banking. Maybe your credit union likes taking risks or encouraging failure as a means to innovation. Use the things your credit union already does as a starting point for crafting core values, and seek input from staff. Crafting core values is not an exercise just for the executive leadership team. If you want employees to live your values, they have to believe in them. Find out what they believe about your credit union. Use the words they identify as core values. Choose values that can be and are demonstrated daily.
Once your core values are in place, you can develop brand, training and hiring practices around them. Only hire people who fit your core values. Ask interview questions around your core values. Make sure your brand and service are matching your values. If they don’t, your brand won’t survive.
January is a good time to do some soul searching for your credit union. What is your organization’s culture and how do your employees demonstrate that to your members and to each other?
Read more about this topic and find examples of core values from successful companies in the January issue on my monthly e-zine, On the Mark.