Most of your CU's assets are not on the books but in the heads of the people who work there

Turn your staff into an idea factory.

Most of your credit union’s assets are not on the books but in the heads of the people who work there. So how do you turn those assets into something tangible? Turn your staff into an idea factory.

Set up a system that encourages suggestions. Have everyone (yes, accounting too) come to a meeting with 2-3 ideas for making his/her department more productive and enhancing the performance of the credit union. Keep the atmosphere completely free from negativity. Everyone needs to feel comfortable and say things off the top of their head. Write the ideas down and note the employee who came up with it. Make this meeting a regular, ongoing event.

Consider bribes to get the ideas flowing. Bring in a bunch of tchotchke giveaways. Reward ideas based on their merits. Even better (if you can get away with it), bring in a stack of crisp bills for that first meeting. For every reasonable idea, give a dollar. Every good idea, $5. Great idea? $10. Vote on the best idea and give that person $50 or the biggest tchotchke. No one will get rich, but the credit union will likely save money or make money based on the suggestions, so view it as an investment. And everyone will look forward to the next meeting.

Have a system in place to implement the ideas. Ideas are wonderful, but if nothing happens, you have wasted everyone’s time and enthusiasm. Assign responsibilities to senior staff and management, and set dates to report results — either in a separate meeting so the idea factory does not get too long, or make it a quick summary at the next meeting.

Reward employees whose ideas are implemented. Not only will you have made improvements at the credit union, employees who are rewarded become more invested in their jobs. And their co-workers have more incentive to come up with their own ideas.

Kent Dicken
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