Is Your Credit Union Holding Itself Accountable?

“Where there is no accountability, there will also be no responsibility.”

― Sunday Adelaja

Like any great sports team, a credit union team is only as strong as their least engaged teammate. The best teams in history have not had that one, singular all-star player but a collection of teammates who held each other accountable and accomplished their common goal. Think about what your credit union goals are for 2020. Can you accomplish them yourself? The answer is most likely no. Can you accomplish them working as a team? If each teammate holds themselves responsible and they hold each other accountable, the answer is absolutely!

How do you foster an environment of team accountability? It starts with you. Most likely, you hold weekly or monthly one-on-ones with your direct reports. Is the talk purely numbers and goal driven? Break down the conversation to a more actionable level of interaction. Really discuss the how, in terms of process and technique, more than the what regarding numbers.  The goal is to uncover what steps are being taken on individual interactions with members to affect your bottom line. Make it mission driven instead of metric driven. If the mission is effective, the metrics will follow suit. This may sound counterintuitive but remember, if you focus more on the destination and not on the path, the destination will take longer to reach.

Start by reviewing new memberships and loan applications for the prior week. Collect a sample size of each and discuss with your leadership team what you find.

A couple of things to look at to get started:

  • New members. They opened a membership but what additional services were offered or accepted? That officer should be able to relay their conversation and the members financial picture to their supervisor. The supervisor should be able to explain to you why additional solutions were or were not opened.
  • Loan applications. Review the notes and supporting documentation. In addition to this, take note of the purpose for the application and the reasoning for approval. Do the notes provide a clear financial picture of the member? Do they discuss other areas of opportunity or conversations surrounding the member’s loans at your competitor? If not, set the expectation to your leadership team that these conversations will be completed going forward. The member is at a disservice if they aren’t being given the full services available to them, leaving them to pay higher interest rates on competitor loans and credit cards.

To transform the level of accountability in your organization, there are actionable steps you can take:

  • Be proactive: Do a monthly sample review of loan applications, memberships, and business development actions. What worked? What areas of improvement exist?
  • Inquire: Ask your team leaders about each one you review. They should be able to provide answers if they are holding their team accountable. No answer? The accountability has not been shown.
  • Educate: If hurdles persist, there’s a reason for it. Do the frontline staff understand the importance of capturing the full relationship? Teach them how refinancing a 10-18% unsecured loan from the competitor will benefit the member and make their lives better.
  • Be self-accounted: Do not let these conversations be a one-time focus. Schedule time each month to hold these conversations and set the expectation going forward for these meetings. Your team will respond appropriately and will actively look for ways to improve the response to your inquiry, thus increasing member service.
  • Celebrate: Accountability works two-fold. If there are opportunities for improvement, hold the team accountable. If improvement happens, hold yourself accountable to celebrate with your team and carry that momentum forward.

Foster the process of accountability with your leadership team. You will need their buy-in before you can get the engagement from frontline staff. Stress the importance of accountability not from the credit unions perspective but from the benefit of the member. Afterall, the member is who we serve and it’s the member who deserves the best that we can deliver.

 “Make yourself accountable and your employees will hold themselves to a high standard.”

― David J. Greer

Adam is a Relationship Development Leader at YMC with a diverse background in the financial industry. Having lead teams at several financial institutions, Adam got the opportunity to see how credit union marketing directly impacts the members it’s designed to serve. Got an idea you want to share with him? Contact him at

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