3 Ways to Avoid the Credit Union Strategic Planning Slump

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A few federal holidays here and there. Team member vacations need to be covered in the branch. Your own vacation if you’re lucky. Not to mention you’re stuck in that weird limbo between your last credit union strategic planning event being so many months ago, and you’re next one too far away. What’s the sense in even worrying about it at this point?

Just do it. There’s nothing worse than showing up to Q4 with not a lot to show from Q3.

I personally find the summer months some of the most meaningful when it comes to strategic planning for my businesses. If we’ve worked our plan in Q1 and Q2, Q3 is indeed that weird limbo place of leadership, but it certainly can be impactful. It’s that last leg of the marathon to tie up loose ends from our last strategic plan. Give it a good postmortem to see where we succeeded and if there are areas in which we didn’t. It’s also a place to start thinking ahead to the next year, and what necessary conversations we need to be having when we get together again for the next strategic planning process.

In short, the summer months are a good time for me to focus on what’s important and not necessarily urgent. Knowing I’m not alone in these struggles over the summer, I spent some time reflecting on what has made these summer months successful for me, to share with credit union leaders who struggle during this point in the year. Here are 3 ways to turn the summer doldrums into success:

  1. Review and assess your goals and KPIs. You should be looking at these on a monthly basis anyway, but I find summertime to be an opportunity to look at the trends so far this year and adjust. From month to month, you can look at them and have your “Oh, sh*t!” moments, but after half a year of data, you can look at the trends and divine some very useful insights beyond “Oh sh*t!” It doesn’t matter much now that we’re a completely remote organization, but when we had an office, I found it helpful to do this exercise away from the hustle and bustle of the office.
  2. Review your decision-making process. Yes. No. Do more. Do less. Pull this lever down. Pull this lever up. As a credit union leader, you are constantly making decisions, and so is your leadership team. Another exercise I do in the middle of Q3 is to review my decision-making process and that of my team. We’re well into our strategic plan for the year and I have a bird’s eye view of what decisions we’ve made, what the outcomes we’ve achieved, how we made those decisions, and how the outcomes may have been successful (or not) based on our decision-making process. It also gives me an opportunity to consider why we made those decisions. In a recent conversation with our business coach, I found I was overstepping my bounds and making decisions that should have been left with my leadership team, and what prompted me to do so. The perspective helped me make a shift going into Q3 that will remove some task saturation from me and help me lead my team better.
  3. Review your mission, vision, and values. Are these still your North Star? If you’ve reviewed and made changes in the last few years, the answer is probably yes. If you had to dig deep into a file cabinet to find your mission, vision, and values, and they were written when Seinfeld was still airing new episodes, it may be time to add mission, vision, and values to your credit union strategic planning session. (Hint, we can help with mission and vision work AND strategic planning!)

Are they still clear? Do they still abide? And most importantly if you answer yes, write a paragraph describing the actions you’ve taken in the first half of the year to live your mission, vision, and values. If that’s a heavy burden, it may be time to 1) review your mission, vision, and values or 2) have a tough conversation with your leadership team about how important it is to live those out every day and determine how your credit union can fulfill that mission, vision, and values in the second half of the year.

You still have several months left to 2022. Now isn’t the time to throw your hands in the air and wait for your next credit union strategic planning session to act. Now is the time to work harder than you’ve worked all year, but also smarter than you’ve worked all year. Separate the important from the urgent and focus on the crucial pieces of your strategic plan that can make a big impact on your organization, your members’ lives, and your community.

Refocus Your Vision

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Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

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