Promise & Delivery

Most of us can probably list off an exceptional shopping or service experience or two, or an equally disappointing one. I was recently picking up some restaurant gift cards for my sister and at one her favourite East Indian restaurants. As I waited for one of the staff to make up the gift card, I chatted with one of the owners about the interesting selection of East Indian drinks they had displayed above the bar. As he delivered the gift card to me he also reached into the cooler and gave me a complimentary East Indian Cola. Small gesture, but one that pretty much guarantees I will be taking my wife there for supper some night soon (the food smelled very good as well :-).

I didn’t expect it. We likely all have a generic perspective on what we expect from a shopping or service experience, but what expectations do we create with our members and prospective members from how we position ourselves in the marketplace? More importantly, how well do we  live up to that expectation?

Over the last few years I have been telling the story of Promise & Delivery, and how important it is for our credit union, or any organization for that matter, to ensure that they are tightly aligned.

Promise refers to what we tell our members and prospective members to expect from us as a financial services provider. You might also refer to it as your value proposition or brand promise. Much of what my team in marketing and communications does is related to making the promise and translating that into messaging in our campaigns, promotions, advertising, communications, products and programs.

Delivery is the fulfillment of that promise. It’s the help, advice, products and services that our member-facing staff provide to our members.

To be successful, the promise and implied benefits must not only be competitively relevant and unique, compelling and believable, we must be able to deliver consistently. Without a tight alignment between promise and delivery we are at risk to over-promise and under-deliver.

My challenge for young leaders is to think about ideas for improvement and innovation in promise and delivery. Many of you have great ideas to share not only on the promise, but also on the delivery part of the message. We owe it to our members that as a system we continue moving forward in our overall execution of both. So, my question to you is…what’s your view?

Jacques DeCorby

Executive Vice-President, Marketing & Communications
Conexus Credit Union

The Importance of Innovation

Sask CU Advance is designed for Young Leaders by Young Leaders as a venue to share ideas and earn an opportunity to make a difference. Innovation has been a buzzword in the Credit Union system in the past couple of years, so we asked Shawn Good, Executive Vice President of Governance & Strategy at Conexus Credit Union, a few questions about it…

From your point of view, why is Innovation important to the Credit Union system?

Credit Unions were built on collaborative innovation; groups of individuals coming together to address a need by building something different than the financial services available at the time. Applying the same process, credit unions have historically been first to market on many changes in the industry. Today, the credit union system is facing real challenges; stagnant member growth numbers, low market penetration, capital constraints, low margins, and rapidly changing member demands in terms of channel & technology. At Conexus, we feel that for the long-term sustainability of Credit Unions, innovation is required – not just in products and services but also in how those are delivered. Innovation doesn’t need to be a net new idea – it may already exist in another industry, country, or context but when applied to our reality could result in an exciting win for members and credit unions.

How do you think about Innovation at Conexus?

It is important to draw a distinction between ideas and good innovative thinking – ideas are free (and plentiful) but valuable, innovative ideas need to align with our strategy, fit with member needs, be feasible (technologically and operationally), and economically viable. At Conexus, we are thinking of innovation as a continuum, from small improvements to big transformational changes. We have designed the following two by two matrix: Incremental to Game Changing with the solutions being generated either Internally or Externally. We are actively pursuing both the internal aspects as well as collaboration externally – within the credit union system and with other industries.  We know that it is important we continue down our path of keeping pace with members’ expectations and helping them with their financial well being. We are working hard to ensure that our process and culture are set up to support the best solutions for members.

In your view, are there key success factors that help drive Innovation in organizations?

Yes, I believe that in order for innovation to thrive it needs to be resourced and supported at several levels.  You need to have a culture that allows people freedom to fail, and where they are encouraged to challenge the status quo and try new things. You need to have clear risk appetite defined so that everyone understands what dollars the organization is prepared to put at risk in order to explore an unproven innovative project. Project governance should have a different hurdle rate or risk tolerance for innovative ideas vs. normal operational initiatives. Finally, it is critical to have clear executive and board support.

From your perspective, how does a program like Sask CU Advance help with Innovation?

Sask CU Advance by the Saskatchewan Young Leaders team provides a venue to generate and share incremental or game changing ideas from young leaders in Saskatchewan credit union system. Sharing ideas and raising the level of conversations for vetting is a step on the journey to innovation in our industry. Sask CU Advance does this, incorporates the voice of the CU system in the voting process, and allows the ideas supported by the system to be outlined and presented to the CEO group in Saskatchewan. Sounds like help to me!

— Shawn Good, Conexus Credit Union

Why is Saskatchewan CU Advance Important?

Eric Dillon, CEO of Conexus Credit Union, explains why the Saskatchewan CU Advance competition is important to the future of credit unions.

 Eric Dillon Eric Dillon

Credit Unions are at a crossroads. While the expectations of our members are increasing, so are the expectations and standards of the regulatory environment. Leaders within the Credit Union system are going to have to think very differently about how we build credit unions and serve members in the years ahead. While we have 75 years of serving members well, the next 75 are going to be much more challenging to retain our position as the member experience leaders in the industry.

That evolution will require more innovation, more collaboration and more ideas. Ideas that stretch our thinking and the status quo will be necessary for us to move forward. That is why the Saskatchewan CU Advance program is so important. It creates another avenue to build and debate ideas, some of which might unlock the keys to our future.

Eric Dillon
CEO, Conexus Credit Union

Step Forward With Confidence

Do it!

Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to have some really great conversations with bright minds in the Credit Union system. Some of these conversations have included ideas for the Sask CU Advance competition. By ideas, I mean some really great, insightful ideas with great potential to have positive impact for members, employees and credit unions. For me, it is always exciting and energizing to hear and talk about ways we could think about things differently, improve on what we have or do today, and ultimately build forward.

Now for the downside. A lot of the conversations have included or even ended with, “ya, but that idea might not be good enough” or “I am not sure that I can pull this off” or “what if someone else already has that idea” or something similar..  My feedback? Don’t let the questions hold you back. Work through them. Use them to drive your forward.  Build past them.

In 2012, I had the good fortune of participating in the CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec competition. At every stage of the competition, I had many of the same reservations. If I had let the doubt or questions win, I would not have been able to share the great story of our Wealth Team at Conexus and never have gained that invaluable experience and exposure.

So my question to the young bright minds out there – will you let the questions hold you back, or will you Step Forward with confidence?

 Jill Huls speaks with SYL committee members Jill Huls speaks with SYL committee members

Jill Huls
Conexus Credit Union and 2012 CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec Finalist

The One Secret to Becoming a Leader

A few days ago, I was presented with a challenge that was
new to me – could I write an insightful article that will attract people to a
website (insightful and interesting – no pressure there!)?   The person asking the question is a member
of the SYL Committee and explained that they wanted to draw traffic to the Sask
CU Advance website and felt having some insightful articles from credit union
executives would be a good way to do that.

 Corvyn Neufeld Corvyn Neufeld

So I thought quite a lot about what insight or advice I
might be able to put forward to aspiring leaders.  I’ve spent over 20 years in human resources
and have seen and experienced quite a bit of stuff over those years – both good
and bad.  So hopefully I know something
of value that is worth sharing.  Here’s
what I came up with.  It’s
up to you.
 That’s it.  Before you stop reading, let me explain this
a little more.  What I’m saying is that
it’s your career.  It’s your life.  No one else is responsible for you.  Only you are responsible for you.  Only you control what decisions you make each
day – the things you choose to do and the things you choose not to do.  Only you control your attitude.  It’s up to you.

If you are an aspiring leader wanting more from your job, why
aren’t you getting it?  Is it because
“they” haven’t given you the right opportunity or because “they” don’t
recognize your talent?  Or maybe “they”
never told you to go for it.  I firmly
believe you make your own opportunities.
Sure it helps a lot to have a senior person “in your corner”, who
supports you and believes in you.  I’ve
had some of those people over my career and I’m very grateful for the support
they gave me.  It also helps a lot to
have groups like the Sask Young Leaders who are working hard to create
opportunities for you.   But in the end
it’s up to you and only you.

What I mean by this, is you need to take initiative –
when your manager gives you a task, project, assignment, whatever it is – don’t
wait for all the “how to’s” – figure it out and do it.  Don’t wait for him or her to ask you for your
work – show it to her.    If you see something that you know needs to
be done and you don’t see someone doing it – do it.  If you see something that can be done faster,
easier and cheaper, do it.  If you feel you
need education – go get it.  If the
credit union won’t pay for it, pay for it yourself.  If you need experience that you can’t get
with your current employer – go get it somewhere else (odd for an HR guy to say
that isn’t it!).  And then come back
later in a more senior position.  Don’t
wait for the perfect opportunity.  It may
never come.  Take advantage of everyday
opportunities to make your mark.  They
don’t have to be big things.  Little things
matter and get noticed.

Now there are a few things to remember – there are always
some limitations and realities you need to pay attention to.  If you see an opportunity to do something but
there could be significant impact to the credit union (cost, risk, member
service, etc.) – you should get permission first before charging ahead.  And don’t forget that you have a job to do
too – it can be easy to be distracted from your day-to-day job by an exciting
new/different project.  No one likes the
co-worker who ignores their day-to-day job and spends all their time chasing
the “cool” stuff.   Also remember to be a good co-worker – people
who are obsessed with career advancement often alienate themselves from their
co-workers.  And people who don’t support
their co-workers often end up without the support they need to be successful.

So why doesn’t everyone “just do it”?  The biggest barrier I’ve seen over and over is
fear.  And especially fear of making a
mistake.  I think everyone can think of a
time when they missed an opportunity because they were too afraid to go for it.  That’s perfectly normal.  But so is making mistakes.  We all make mistakes.  Every successful person can probably tell you
about mistakes they’ve made in their career.
And some were probably really big ones.
Really successful people will also remember what they learned from those
mistakes.  And they’ve probably not made
that same mistake again (they’ve just made different ones!).  So don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  I heard someone say once that if you aren’t
making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.
So when you do (and you will), admit you made it (really important),
apologize for it (also really important), learn from it (really, really
important) and move on (really, really, really important).

Life’s a journey.
Have dreams of what you want from that journey and create that
future.  Grab opportunities that are in
front of you.  If they aren’t in front of
you, get in front of them.  Don’t be
afraid to make mistakes and learn from the mistakes you make.  It’s up to you.

Corvyn Neufeld
Cornerstone Credit Union

One Saskatchewan Young Leader’s Story – Todd MacMurchy

As Retail Manager of Raymore Credit Union, Saskatchewan Young Leader, Todd MacMurchy, shares his story of success as a leader in the credit union system.

Vince Lombardi once wrote “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”  Todd MacMurchy is no stranger to this tale as he worked his way to Retail Manager, one of four executive management positions, at Raymore Credit Union.

As Retail Manager, Todd is responsible for the day to day operations of his credit union. He leads his team by example, but more importantly he gives his employees empowerment. “Giving employees the opportunity to provide their input into decisions gives them a great sense of buy-in and the feeling of empowerment as they are also contributing to the success of the credit union. We make a lot of decisions together which in turn forms a great team.”

There are many qualities that make a very valuable and effective leader. When we asked Todd what the most important quality of a leader is, his answer – “Confidence”.

“This quality can make you or break you as a leader. You must remember you have been selected as a leader in your organization, and a good leader must be confident in order to make decisions that people will follow. You must ensure that the people you lead have respect and confidence in you. Whether it’s a major decision in your organization, or socializing with your peers, make sure that your confidence always shows.”

We asked Todd for any tips on what emerging young leaders can do on their pathway to success. They are:

  1. Continually develop on a professional and personal level – Surround yourself with leaders in the CU system. Introduce yourself, have the courage and confidence to talk to the leaders of other organizations. You’ll find it to be most beneficial and will pay off in the future. Attend as many personal development sessions as you can (Leadership, Coaching, etc.), and continue your development for the future leader that you will become.
  2. Ensure that your voice is heard – Don’t be afraid to talk to your supervisor / manager. Have that conversation with your CEO. Let your voice be heard, and be confident in yourself and what you have to say.

“Every day is not an easy day. Leaders of an organization must always be on top of issues and strategies to ensure the success of their organization. But great responsibility comes great reward. In order to succeed, you have to have the ability to lead. Be confident in yourself and your abilities. And you have to have passion – if you love coming to work and enjoy what you do every day, you will succeed.”

Todd has had a lot of people influence his life in the ways of development and leadership. “We live in a smaller community and it shows when you walk through the front door of Raymore Credit Union. We know our members, and we know our co-workers. We are a tight knit family here and we do a lot together. I surround myself with great people. In addition to the great people I know in the CU system and my Master’s Degree in Business, I would have to say that success and leadership was first instilled in me and was forever cultured in my life from my father. He is a great coach and leader. I thank him for everything he has taught me. I have used many of his teachings in my life and feel I am a better person and leader because of it.”

“Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it.” – Stan Smith

Todd MacMurchy
Raymore Credit Union, Retail Manager

Easy Way to Boost Your Professional Development: Enter Competitions

The Saskatchewan Young Leaders congratulate Kris Babbings on being selected as one of the Top 5 for the 2013 Credit Union Central National Young Leaders.

 Kris Babbings Kris Babbings

Kris currently holds the position of Business Development Manager at Affinity Credit Union where he currently manages branches in Birch Hills, Kinistino and Weldon. He is responsible for providing leadership to team members to foster a member centric culture, while achieving organizational goals. Kris entered his submission, with a bit of help and push from executive, on the changes that were undertaken in these three branches in order to implement a member centric culture, and the results that were achieved because of those changes. His presentation highlighted the key changes that were made that led to the personal and professional growth that his team underwent – both as individuals and more importantly as a team to move forward.

We asked Kris what he learned through this venture of earning Top 5 in the national credit union system. “I have learned a lot both about myself and the Credit Union system since I first submitted my name for this award. However, the one thing that sticks out in my mind is that I now have a better idea of how many great people and leaders we have in the Credit Union system in Canada today. From the individuals within my own Credit Union as well as from other Credit Unions that were willing to help, mentor and believe in me through this process, to the people I was fortunate enough to meet during my time in Ottawa. We in the Credit Union system are truly fortunate to have the ability to learn from and work with some individuals that no matter what path they had chosen in life, they would have been successful at it.”

Kris’ three keys to success:

  1. Surrounding yourself with good people – I believe that as individuals we are a combination of all the people that we have crossed paths with in our lives. Some of those people will have made a more profound impact on us than others but at the end of the day we can learn something from everyone we meet. So why not try and spend time with and learn from people who are doing great things in their organizations and communities.
  2. A desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others – No matter whom you are and what you do in life, if you care about the people around you and you work every day to make a positive difference in their lives, you are successful.
  3. Understanding that there is a solution to every challenge – Some challenges just require hard work; others require altering the way we think or our behaviors. Some challenges require us to admit that we don’t know the solution, but in those situations we need to be willing to look to and learn from others. Every challenge presents an opportunity to learn.

“I contribute the success I have had so far in my career to everyone that has taken the time to try and make a positive difference in my life. I am fortunate to have parents who taught me the importance of hard work and community involvement among other things. I have also had the opportunity to have been able to work with, learn from and be inspired by great people both in and outside of the Credit Union system. To
those people I want to take this opportunity to say thank you and encourage anyone reading this to do the same thing for those people in your life.” – Kris Babbings

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Saskatchewan Young Leaders Committee