Community Service

Passionate About CU Philosophy and Leadership

‘I love to participate in work that makes a difference.’

November 07, 2013
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As vice president of training and leadership development, Amy Gravitte focuses on developing stronger leadership throughout Coastal Federal Credit Union, Raleigh, N.C.

Gravitte developed “3-2-1 Launch to Loyalty,” a member onboarding program, and executed “Levels to Achievement” to ensure staff can grow and develop in their roles. She implemented a custom learning management system, “Coastal University.”

As one of about 1,000 graduates from the National Credit Union Foundation’s Development Education (DE) program, Gravitte’s commitment to further credit union philosophy and principles is evident in everything she does. She was part of a team of DEs that developed the annual Principles & Philosophy Conference, which is now gaining national recognition. Developing training materials and programs that help co-workers meet members’ financial needs is fulfillling to her.

“I’m passionate about leadership development and talent management,” she says. Her colleagues embrace her efforts. They see the results: increased awareness of credit unions’ heritage and philosophy, improved employee engagement, and growing member loyalty.

For credit unions’ continued success, staff must stay true to the member-owned structure and to the unique differences of all credit unions, believes Gravitte.

Gravitte also recommends employees take advantage of training opportunities to maximize their skills. She wants to contribute to those training opportunities at Coastal Federal as much as possible.

“I really love and want to do what I’m doing. I look forward to making bigger and more meaningful contributions,” Gravitte adds. “I love the people. I love to participate in work that makes a difference. I like to go to work every day. I believe that honest work is honorable. I respect work and people who work. Every one of our roles is important, otherwise the jobs wouldn’t exist.”

Gravitte recognizes that some credit union professionals might not be in the right roles. That’s why it’s important for leaders to recognize people’s talents so they can be in the positions that benefit most from those skills, she says.

What Gravitte does through her training efforts gives staff the tools to serve members with confidence. “They deserve the best opportunity to deliver their best to members,” Gravitte says.

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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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