Collaboration Within the Credit Union System

COLLABORATION: Working together to achieve a goal…


Collaboration is a topic that is brought up at many leadership meetings, whether it is through Peer Group, or even an SYL hosted event.

The Filene Research Institute has a report that discusses:

  • Steps on Effective Collaboration;
  • Benefits and Challenges that are associated with collaboration;
  • Merger Models;
  • Long-term Collaboration; and
  • The struggle to connect.

This report, like many others, really hits home as a Credit Union employee. You don’t have to be in a current leadership position to appreciate the research provided by Filene’s reports.

In this summary we discuss how the steps of collaboration can relate to young leaders within our own Credit Unions.

Step One: Think Broadly

Our industry is in a state of constant innovation and change. For Saskatchewan Credit Unions we need to step up our innovative ideas and start having more firsts. Did you know that a Saskatchewan Credit Union was the first financial institution to offer services via an ATM? Collaboration with other credit unions will have their challenges but the ideas that can be implemented are what our members have been asking for. Collaboration has become something of necessity not just a “nice-to-have”. If you were to look around at some of the services and products launched in the past little while, they were launched out of collaboration with a group of Credit Unions (ie: CU Connect, No-Fee Chequing Account).

These examples are from a higher level, but there are ways to collaborate with others within your own Credit Union. Whether it be collaborating on sharing practices and procedures to see if there is a better way of doing things, collaborate in training new and existing staff, or creating Young Leader Committees in your Credit Union to collaborate together to engage the youth of the Credit Union.

Step Two: When looking to collaborate…it’s important to have the right partners involved.

You want to find partners that have a shared problem or shared opportunity to improve on through the collaboration of a group. Your group must be willing participants and engage in conversations, brainstorming, information seeking, and implementing the end solution.

Step Three: Overcome Objections

Let’s look at the idea of creating a Young Leaders Committee at your own Credit Union. You want to ensure that you have a clear mandate as to how the committee is going to provide value to the organization. This mandate should relate back to the Credit Union’s mission and values and have the support of the CEO/Executive Sponsor before moving forward with the collaboration. Being a part of a collaborative group it is important for you to respect your peers and their ideas. Allow everyone a chance to share their ideas and opinions and realize that your ideas may not always be the best ideas. By having a diverse group of people you must also realize that the development of each individual may be different. With some individuals, this could be their first time participating in a leadership group. For others they may be very comfortable with public speaking, running meetings, decision-making. Not everyone will have the same personality. Being a part of a collaborative group “I don’t have enough time” or “I am too busy” are not acceptable excuses. It is important to respect each members time and contribute 110%, not whenever you feel like it.

Final Step: Get Beyond the Plateau Point

Everyone in the group must stay committed to the collaboration. Even if one person is not committed the collaboration may lose momentum.

And finally don’t be afraid of failure. “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”.

If you have a chance read the full article sign up under the CUCC login under your individual Credit Union. Collaboration in Practice: 11 Credit Union Case Studies by George Hofheimer and Ben Rogers of the Filene Research Institute.

Saskatchewan Young Leaders Committee

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