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Bringing Strategy Closer to Your Employees

By Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

Have you seen the Konica Minolta commercial, “The Royal Boss (2012)?”  In Scene One, a male professional reads a royal CEO proclamation (from a scroll for effect) to a female professional to recognize the CEO’s approval of her efforts and achievements to help the company succeed.  In Scene Two, the CEO is carried by other professionals on two poles holding an executive chair while the CEO gives a distant gesture of thanks.  And, in Scene Three, the elevated CEO is transported head-on into the ceiling “EXIT” sign. 

We laugh and replay the video before forwarding to our C-level buddies.  Yet, in an offbeat way, we speculate if the distance between us and our managers and professionals might be comparable.

As credit union CEOs, you want your credit union’s blueprint for success to be grasped, acknowledged, and implemented by all.  It’s called many terms – engaged, entrenched, buy-in – and all lead to one result: CEOs want their employees to own their role in credit union success.  In the end, it helps warrant that a professional’s day-to-day choices buoy your credit union’s plans. 

Yet, kick off meetings, logo wear for all, and a catchy acrostic often fall short.  What works best when creating ways to engage employees to your strategic plan?

To comprehend what assists the kind of buy-in that leads to enterprise-wide commitment, experts at INSEAD (one of the world’s leading graduate business schools) scrutinized more than 60,000 responses in a study for drivers that could establish what causes increased buy-in.  To no one’s surprise, high level executives with high salaries, life balance, and an optimistic assessment of their corporation had elevated buy-in. 

But, what about the non-executive set, those who see and work with more members in one day than you may in one month?  Unpredictably, longer tenured employees were not more engaged, nor were employees who had supervisors who were experienced in explaining the overall strategy. 

What mattered most in bringing the C-Suite closer to the rest of the organization was paired: CEOs who repeatedly discussed and connected activities with strategies; and, CEOs who used their post in down-to-earth, trustworthy, and convincing ways.

Instead of assigning business intelligence to your reports and anticipating that it makes its way through your organization chart (and occasionally learning that it does not), consider these methods that credit union CEOs have employed to bring employees and their daily tasks closer to your strategic plans, goals, and objectives. 

  1. Once you and your Board establish your strategic direction, make employee engagement and buy-in a working part of each objective.  For all intents and purposes, your managers and supervisors perform a significant role in engagement since they have an effect on employee’s responsibilities, cooperation, and improvement.
  2. Include managers and supervisors in developing tactics that reinforce objectives and strategies.  One credit union CEO brings his supervisory team together (after the board planning session) and tasks them with brainstorming methods to accomplish objectives.  “The sky’s the limit for ideas,” he says, “However, ideas that move forward will be ones directly tied to our objectives.”
  3. Walk around – a lot.  One CEO invests one day each week “in the trenches,” he says.  “I learn much about real world execution – and sometimes the lack of it – in lobbies, lunch rooms, back offices, and cubicles.  My leaders – at all levels – understand my presence is my opportunity to hear and see how we’re doing with respect to the daily delivery on our strategies and how we might do even better.”  Another CEO hosts a monthly “CEO Today” session where (in one afternoon) he hosts three employees (of interrelated departments) for lunch and strategic conversation.  At afternoon’s end, the CEO has a better perspective on implementation and his colleagues are more committed to the strategy.  “It’s become quite a session – this ‘CEO Today’ program.  It’s created its own demand; my colleagues are eager for time to discuss strategy, results, and how their ideas and efforts help the credit union.”

As CEO, you have a distinctive understanding of strategy and how all of the parts work together.  No one can connect and confer the long-term direction of your credit union – and everyone’s role in success – more effectively.  This in mind, consider some of the thoughts above as you find ways to bring strategies that you are responsible for accomplishing closer to the colleagues who help you deliver results.  Done right, your teammates may want to give you a royal carry through the office.  Just duck when you see the “EXIT” sign. 

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional, and President of Rising Above Enterprises works with credit unions that want elite results in leadership, sales, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 credit unions and their business partners.

Contact Jeff via email or phone: 866.340.3770. You can also visit his website.

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