There is one decision most credit unions make on a regular basis that can determine the success or sub-optimization of the credit union’s performance. It has nothing directly to do with which product to offer or which system to implement. It isn’t about what strategy to create or what process to enhance. In many ways, it’s simpler than that, yet much more delicate. The most important decision you can make at the credit union is who to promote to the role of manager.
Many times, someone is promoted into the manager role because they were the most productive individual contributor or because they were the longest tenured member of the team. After all you’d assume that the most successful person on the team or the one who has vast experience has the most knowledge. While these reasons make sense, neither are the best basis for said promotion. But what if the newly minted manager has no desire to share their knowledge or develop members of their team? If a person has been there the longest, they’ve not only experienced a great many situations, they’ve also earned the right to be promoted because of their loyalty. But what if the most experienced person doesn’t remember situations accurately or can’t make sound decisions?
Being a successful manager requires more than personal productivity and experience. While those characteristics are important, there are other critical attributes like the development of team members, the desire and ability to collaborate, the willingness and know-how to motivate others, the knowledge on when to lead and when to allow someone on the team to take the lead and the understanding of what each person on the team does best to achieve optimal performance.
Another important consideration when promoting someone to manager is determining whether the candidate is one who models the credit union’s core values. If the best performer achieved their results through intimidation and one of the credit union’s core values is, “Treat others with care,” there’s a big disconnect, which will make a mockery of the core values.
A manager has a significant amount of influence over the team’s day to day experience. In fact, based on Gallup’s research, 76 percent of a team’s engagement is determined solely by the leader. Couple that with the fact that one of the main reasons teams within an organization don’t get along is because managers don’t get along, and you can see why it’s critical to promote the right people as managers. Remember people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. If you make the wrong choice, it has a dramatic, adverse impact on many employees. And that negative impact will eventually spill over to members.
So, here is my advice: create a pipeline in your credit union where management development helps you identify the right people for the role. They may also be the best performer or the most tenured on the team, but maybe not. Make sure your management decisions are in the best interests of your employees and, ultimately, your credit union. They could be the most important decisions you ever make as an organization!
Joe Bertotto has more than three decades of experience helping leaders improve their workplace cultures. He is the SVP/chief culture officer at Vizo Financial Corporate Credit Union and a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. In 2014, Joe was named a Credit Union Rock Star by Credit Union Magazine. He also recently published his book, Pick Up the Gum Wrapper: How To Create a Workplace That Increases Performance While Improving Lives, which credit union leaders have been using as a guide to increase the effectiveness of their leadership skills and overall culture.