**Originally posted on CU Insight 8/2/12**
The latest round of data on credit unions indicates that the industry is in very good shape. Of course, there is always room for improvement and the most successful credit unions will be the ones that set the pace rather than simply “keep up.” The Summer Olympics just commenced in London and I am always amazed by the sheer talent of the athletes who compete in the Games. They make it look flawless yet we know that the performances are the result of tireless preparation and training. And the most successful athletes are the ones that set the pace – everyone else just tries to keep up. So much training, so much dedication, so much time leads up to that one shot on the world stage. A perfect performance results in a medal. But the slightest mistake will often result in heartbreak.
Credit unions also dedicate time and effort for their shot to impress their members, build relationships, and make a difference in people’s lives. The ones who do it the best are the leaders in the industry. But even the best have to guard against those little mistakes that can represent the difference between success and disappointment. Here are 3 mistakes that credit unions should avoid in order to rise above the pack:
Refusing to adjust. The marketplace is changing and is doing so rapidly. Credit unions must adapt as best they can. Consumers are more demanding than ever and people simply don’t “settle” anymore. Credit unions that refuse to make changes or adjustments will find themselves standing on the sidelines.
Tolerating mediocrity. There is simply too much competition to accept sub-standard performance from your employees. Credit unions need to employ people that are passionate, visionary, and self-motivated. Sad to say but there are just some people that need to be shown the door. But too many credit unions still suffer from “separation anxiety.” Instead of cleaning house, they move below-average employees to other positions hoping for a change. Meanwhile, growth is stagnating, morale is in the dumpster, and any semblance of a progressive culture has all but disappeared. And it’s back to the drawing board.
Being unprepared. Credit unions have so much to offer but they have to be sure they are ready to meet the demand for which they strive. Before implementing a new program or strategy, it is so important that relevant research is conducted, significant planning is undertaken (including contingency strategies,) and the key players are all “in the game.” The last thing you need is for your staff or support-systems to fall short when it comes to delivery and execution. For sure, there will be obstacles and challenges that arise. However, the most successful organizations are the ones that can anticipate potential problems and have processes in place to deal with issues as they come up.
Obviously, there are a lot of specific mistakes that can be put under each of the three “umbrellas” above. And that is the point here. So many costly errors can be traced back to unpreparedness, mediocrity, and a misunderstanding of the market. So if credit unions can avoid these macro-missteps, growth is not only possible but inevitable.