‘Put On Your Strategic Hat’

Learning may be CUs’ only sustainable advantage.

April 01, 2013
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Marketers often get so busy doing they forget to put on their “strategic hats,” Patrick Adams, master of ceremonies for the 20th Annual CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference, said Monday.

Big mistake.

“Learning may be the only sustainable advantage we have,” says Adams, president/CEO of St. Louis Community Credit Union. “If we’re a little better and a little faster, we’ll win.”

It’s easy to overestimate how the financial services world will change in two years, but underestimate the changes that will take place 10 years from now, Adams says.

“Twenty years ago, during our first conference, no one was talking about social media or apps,” he says. “We were talking about guerilla marketing. Things have changed dramatically.”

Adams urged attendees to embrace “context over content, and focus on the big picture.

“We need specialists,” he says, “but true leaders cross over” into all areas of the credit union.

“You’ll get a lot of ideas here,” Adams says, “and you need to put important ideas into place now. They might not pay off immediately, but they will eventually.

“Plant the tree now that people will sit under in 20 years."

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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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