Can the Movement Reach for a Common Vision?

Our common values will continue to be the foundation of our success.

October 01, 2012
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‘Plan to Win’

Despite all the recent attention we’ve received in social and traditional media, most people still don’t know what credit unions are or how we differ from banks, and most don’t think of us first for financial services.

We can overcome these challenges. It will take time, effort, and a unified approach, but I’m confident in our ability to succeed.

Working together, we can remove legislative and regulatory barriers that hinder our progress. It will require an even higher level of political involvement and commitment from a movement already known for its grassroots abilities.

CUNA and the leagues are implementing a Plan to Win for America’s Credit Unions to propel us forward. We’ll need to find new ways to further educate consumers about credit unions and raise awareness through media outreach, social media, and advertising.

A number of credit unions and leagues are already making impressive gains in all of these realms, and they can serve as models.

Our movement, which so excels at service, must collaborate to ensure we maintain our lead and to ensure the member experience is consistently great as more consumers come our way. CUNA and the leagues stand ready to assist.

It’s all achievable, and I’m personally excited about the prospect of moving in this direction. Why not 115 million total credit union members in the next decade?

Why not double the movement’s assets during the same period? Why not break the stubborn ceiling on market share?

It can be done by a movement whose values—member ownership, community involvement, an adherence to the principles of cooperation—have such resonance in society today.

As cooperatives, credit unions are dedicated to advancing the financial well-being of their members in ways the banking industry will never understand. Our members matter most.

We’ve seen our appeal draw tremendous membership growth this past year. And I’ve seen the same attraction in other countries’ credit union systems, most recently during a visit to Poland for the World Council of Credit Unions’ World Credit Union Conference in Gdansk.

Since the fall of Communism, credit unions have grown to become a vital part of Poland’s financial services sector—an amazing accomplishment in a relatively brief stretch of time.

“To lead the world into the 21st century,” Nobel Prize winner and Solidarity Party founder Lech Walesa said during the World Council’s meeting, “we need to reach for  values. There’s great service that you can provide in helping us achieve this revolution.”

Each credit union—whether in the U.S. or abroad—relies individually on its values as it strives to meet and exceed members’ expectations. That same drive and belief in our mission will enable us to become consumers’ best and natural choice as a financial partner.

Our common values and purpose as member-owned cooperatives will continue to be the magnet that draws them—and the foundation of our success. I join you in  celebrating those values and common purposes on this International Credit Union Day.

BILL CHENEY is president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association.

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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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