Once a Coach, Always a Coach

Cornerstone CU League CEO has had a hand in many major CU milestones.

October 02, 2013
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Dick Ensweiler set off for college to become a basketball coach, but got sidetracked. After taking a summer job at State Central Credit Union in Milwaukee, he was hooked on credit unions.

“The treasurer/manager and I hit it off well to the extent that he promised me a position when I got out of college and the military,” Ensweiler recalls. “I took him up on it and he created a first-ever management training program. It paid off, and 18 months later I became the treasurer/manager of the Harley Davidson Credit Union.”

It’s almost 50 years later and, in a way, the Cornerstone Credit Union League CEO did become a coach—employing traits such as consensus-building, perseverance, and adaptability in the face of difficult circumstances. The most recent of the many credit union milestones he’s experienced over the years is the merger of the Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas credit union leagues.

“Leagues were facing shrinking numbers and finding it more difficult to provide full services,” Ensweiler says. “We saw value in a larger organization with broader reach. It took four years to get through all the questions, answers, and considerations, but once interested parties remained at the table, it took less than a year to come to an agreement. The merger is everything we hoped it would be. We’re more relevant now than before. With 650 credit unions, we have a bigger voice with potential partners, vendors, regulators, and national associations.”

Ensweiler also came to credit unions’ aid in 1974 when disintermediation caused savings rates to skyrocket from 6% to 22%. “Credit unions could not meet members’ withdrawal requests and I was appointed to a task force of league presidents to find a solution,” he says. “We proposed to CUNA a new financial and support system—and created the corporate credit union network.”

He also played a key role in forging a partnership with Caja Popular Mexicana (CPM) in Leon, Mexico. Today, CPM has more than one million members, 330 branches, and $1 billion in assets.

“The CPM partnership has been successful and mutually beneficial,” Ensweiler says. “We’ve learned a lot from each other.”

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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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