Eliminate Three Barriers To Cooperation

Cooperation and collaboration will be the competitive advantages that sustain this industry.

April 01, 2006
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By Lisa Renner

Our credit union forefathers were truly visionary in developing the cooperative model.

Cooperation and collaboration will be the competitive advantages that sustain this industry, and these are being revived by the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO).

NACUSO is providing a host of resources for CUSOs to re-engineer the collaborative business model. Many credit unions and CUSOs are finding success by joining together, but collaboration isn't always easy and is not being embraced quickly by the industry.

Learn how to overcome these common barriers to cooperation:

• Fear of acquisition. Acquisition and merger strategies have been abundant in ourindustry for the past 10 years. The number of credit unions is shrinking at an alarming ratebecause many smaller institutions can't compete.

Small and mid-sized credit unions fear thatworking with bigger credit unions will position them as 'merger bait.'In addition, egos get in the way. Why is it that every time we meet someone in the industry,the first question is, 'What's your asset size?' And why does this set the tone for theremainder of the conversation and the relationship?

Solution:  We exist to serve our members, and their needs should come first. Without members,none of us--large or small--will survive. Let's put aside egos and make decisions in members'best interests. Our members need us to work collaboratively to develop creative solutions tosustain credit unions as a viable financial alternative.

• Loss of defined barriers to competition. Charter expansions have created overlapping fields of membership, increasing competition among credit unions and hinderingcollaboration.

Solution: By analyzing share of wallet and market penetration, you can quickly see creditunions aren't the problem--credit unions fall short compared to banks every time.

Refocusing credit unions on capturing market share and share of wallet from the banks would keep themmuch busier than worrying about the limited market share other credit unions hold.

• Cooperation requires additional effort. It's a lot harder to work together than dosomething by yourself. I have a great business partner, but both of us have admitted that wecould have built our company faster and with fewer headaches if we'd done it alone. Yetneither of us would choose differently today because we realize the value of our partnership.

Solution: NACUSO is providing the platform for those of us with successful multi-owned CUSOsto tell our stories--both good and bad--to help others understand the value and opportunitiesmulti-owned CUSOs can bring.

Perhaps others won't make the same mistakes we did. Perhaps itwill launch more joint ventures in which we can participate.

Lisa Renner is CEO of Beyond Marketing LLC and CU Holding Co. LLC, Lenexa, Kan., credit union service organizations owned by Mazuma Credit Union, Kansas City, Mo. Kansas City, Mo. She's also a NACUSO board member, and the organization's chief marketing officer.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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