Eleven Questions Every Credit Union Leader Can Ask to Foster Connections Among Staff
Editor’s Note: The following is a contributed piece from Deedee Myers, CEO of Strategic Link partner, DDJ Myers, a top leadership development firm and provider of the award-winning Emerging Leaders program. Below, Myers shares two recommendations for credit union leaders looking to foster interpersonal connections at their organization during this trying time.
Recently, I had a riveting conversation with a progressive, innovative, and thoughtful CEO who said, “We have a blank check to get it right! Now is an opportune time to build the organization for the future.”
He commented on the most significant challenge: managing the culture across 375 worksites that included employee homes, minimally staffed branches, and offices. When the pandemic hit, seemingly overnight, employees moved from spaces with continual human connection to those characterized primarily by remote connection through technology.
According to research, when people feel connected at work, productivity increases by 25-35%. People are meant to live happily and experience success. However, with technologically connected spaces, it is difficult to provide and receive feedback that we are succeeding, doing well, and making our members’ lives better.
It’s become abundantly clear in recent months that working from home will soon become the norm. We need to show up now to reinvent our organizations in anticipation of continuously shifting conditions.
The title of Marshall Goldsmith’s 2007 book resonates strongly: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” Pretend you do not know the answers. Imagine that you stand before a blank whiteboard and have a marker in hand to design the workforce of tomorrow.
I recommend two practices. First, create space for open-ended conversations that start with a key question. Show up in these conversations as people, not as roles or titles. Facilitate the inclusion of all voices. This is not a one-and-done type of conversation, so keep showing up.
My favorite questions are “Why am I here now?” and “What do I want? Why?” I ask myself these questions several times a week, and although I do not always have an answer, I feel connected to myself in a certain way — more grounded in what is important to my family, employees, and clients. Some other great questions to ask are:
- What is my leadership accountability in this new workspace?
- How do I take care of myself?
- How do we create a viable remote work environment that supports human connection?
- What needs to change to ensure our employees feel connected to a sense of purpose?
- What do remote workers need to keep work and home separate, feel purposeful, and maintain a sustainable balance between work and home?
- What historical leadership practices have become derailers?
- How will we know that employees feel seen and experience a sense of belonging?
- What needs to shift in our diversity, equity, and inclusion practices to ensure inclusion and belonging instead of isolation?
- How do we understand what is important to each employee? Why is that important?
My second recommendation is that all credit union leaders designate 20% of their day to connecting with staff on a personal level. Start by asking how the other person is doing, what’s going on with their children, whether they have taken some personal time lately, and so on. Encourage connection-based conversations, not just conversations centered on action or accountability.
Try these suggestions for three months and take notice of what changes you observe. Be patient and graceful with yourself. I imagine you will feel different in terms of how you lead, sense a greater connection with your team, and possibly notice an increase in employee satisfaction.