ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.-When times become difficult, the importance of effective communication becomes that much clearer.

Robyn Young, CEO of Great Erie FCU, attests to that, saying her CU's emphasis on communicating with staff and members played a key role in the lean times.

One of the most important communication steps, said the CEO, was counseling members to look beyond the recession, and not make short-term decisions that would damage their personal balance sheets for years.

"We talked a lot about how to rebuild and preserve a good credit rating. The fifth of the seven cooperative principles relates to member education for people of all ages. This was clearly demonstrated by the credit union as we focused on providing relevant information during this difficult time."

Young said being there for members not only helped them preserve their financial standing, avoid future hardships, and to positively impact CU delinquencies, has made for many lasting relationships. "People needed to know that they had a resource available when they needed debt restructuring, or even a more economical car."

Young stated that communications with employees became equally important so staff understood why the credit union has made the decisions it has.

"We regularly reviewed trends in the financials, spent time cross-training, and explained why we were unable to hire more people. From the top down, everyone had to review their role and contribution to our bottom line."

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