Steward of the Movement's Principles

'It’s not just about being bigger.'

October 09, 2013
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Dick Nesvold is an innovative and passionate steward of his credit union and the movement.

The president/CEO of SouthPoint Federal Credit Union in New Ulm, Minn., took over the top post in 1996 and has presided over tremendous growth and prosperity for members, even through the past few years of economic turmoil.

He oversaw the construction of a new main office, the introduction of checking and debit cards, a field of membership (FOM) expansion, and a name change—setting up the credit union for a sustainable future.

“It’s not just about being bigger,” Nesvold says. “When we expanded our FOM it was all about finding that critical mass that we could leverage to try and stay on the playing field as long as we can.”

Nesvold’s innovative leadership has been a difference-maker for the credit union. "These changes might not have happened without his foresight and intuition,” says Troy Diedrich, SouthPoint Federal’s vice president of marketing and development. “He has hired the right people and instilled in them his vision.”

That vision is simple yet profound: Making people’s lives a little bit better each day. “Fortunately, the credit union charter and the cooperative philosophy are pretty cool things,” Nesvold says. “I’m not sure our members and potential members always understand what that means, but for those of us in leadership roles, it’s very meaningful. Our focus and vision are about the betterment of our members."

Nesvold is an engaged leader, communicating regularly with staff and volunteers, participating in credit union-sponsored activities, committing himself and staff to training, and investing his time with community groups. “He sees the need to reinvent ourselves regularly,” says Diedrich, “and he’s willing to take a chance on ideas that will lead to greater success in the future. 

The entire movement benefits from Nesvold’s commitment to the credit union cause. He’s been an advocate for credit unions in Washington, trying to make elected officials understand the impact excess regulations have on institutions such as SouthPoint Federal.

Nesvold has built credit union bonds abroad as well—especially in Paraguay. He was one of nine credit union professionals inducted into the World Council of Credit Unions’ International Executive Volunteer Corps.

“I hope every day I can have a positive impact on somebody, somewhere, someplace,” Nesvold 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 (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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