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Research: Do You Really Know What Your Staff Thinks Of Your CU?

Many management gurus claim employee satisfaction and accomplishments are keys to organizational success. That's why it's critical to truly understand what employees feel and think. One approach to assessing employee satisfaction is to conduct climate studies that examine various elements of the employee experience (compensation, benefits, opportunities for advancement, personal satisfaction, etc.). Another approach involves employee perception comparison studies (EPCS). With an EPCS, employees are asked what they think members think, and a concurrent member survey ascertains what members actually think. Are employees' beliefs about members-and therefore their actions-aligned with what members really want?

A simultaneous EPCS with over 30 credit unions showed the institutions rated highest by members also received high scores from their staffs. Further, the differences between member scores and staff scores in the highest performing institutions were very small, but varied widely in the lower performers. It follows that high performance depends on a close connection between staff and members.

EPCSs make excellent motivational and training tools. Since members usually rate their credit union's performance higher than employees, positive results validate employees' efforts and point the way to improvement.

Staff focus groups may be the most insightful and powerful tool for employee feedback of all. They can identify communication and process problems and provide a conduit for upward communication that may not otherwise exist. They often reveal the common practice of managers of rolling out new products without asking the affected staff. One institution proceeded to initiate business services even though the employees charged with implementing them were already overwhelmed to the point of diminishing service quality. Three keys for employee focus group success are:

* Never mix hierarchical levels, or the lower levels will be mute.

* Never mix executive assistants with other staff as they may unwittingly be seen as spies.

* A third-party facilitator really will create an environment more conducive to candor.

Understanding employees' perspectives, knowledge and experience is crucial to organizational success because it is employees who understand both the member experience and the institution's processes. Their attitudes, satisfaction and enjoyment of work can make or break your success.

Neil Goldman is President of Member Research. He can be reached at 310-643-5910 or by email at ngoldman<at>memberresearch.com. (c) 2007 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.cujournal.com http://www.sourcemedia.com

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