The Agility Imperative: Tune Up for Future Success

The future belongs to the agile.

August 23, 2010
KEYWORDS agility , leaders , teams
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Times change, leaders lead

Of course, this might feel like an exhaustive list of questions, but if you’re not making them part of a regular self-evaluation process, chances are you’re falling behind instead of leading the way forward.

The information (not just data) you incorporate into each of these key agility assessments must be reliable, timely, and current.

Next, focus on which among these many issues is most relevant and critical to your organization, and, after prioritizing them, build teams accordingly.

Too many priorities lead to a lack of focus—too few priorities leave you behind your competitors. As in all things, striking the right balance will manifest better services, products, and pricing for your members, and more success for your credit union.

Finally, instill a sense of urgency in others. You can’t do this all on your own, so look for qualities related to agility at all levels of your team.

Your team must consist only of professionals who want to be part of the best, most successful, and agile credit union in America.

Opportunities abound

Some wistfully yearn for a return to the “good old days.” But from my perspective, these are the golden days.

Trust in almost all institutions is down, giving credit unions some advantages we’ve never had before. With that comes a chance to speak the truth about what we stand for and how we’re different.

We’re being given a rare opportunity to effect change in the lives of many people who have been through serious financial trauma. For the agile, the visionary, and the strong, the best days lie ahead.

ERIN MENDEZ is executive vice president/chief operating officer for SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Santa Ana, Calif., and vice chair of the CUNA Council Forum. Contact her at 714-466-8109.

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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 ( 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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