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Work Smarter, Not Harder

written by: uncommn

The urgent often fills credit union leaders’ time before they can even get to what’s important. We must shift the balance from overwhelming task saturation toward more strategic work and goals. 

In the current disruptive business environment, from the economy to keeping up with the technology members are demanding, it’s important to ensure we make time to look ahead. How are we going to adjust to members’ new financial realities and continue providing stellar member service? We can’t answer those questions with our collective noses buried in the daily fire drills. We’re not alone though – reported that only 8% of 6,000 senior executives surveyed were actually considered “strategic leaders,” according to a PWC study.

That leaves one to wonder, how can we buy back our time to devote to strategy?

One of the first things credit union leaders can do to get unstuck is to review leadership’s job descriptions. They likely have sat on a shelf collecting dust for a while, so consider how the credit union has grown and evolved since these were written. That practice can help us start refocusing our minds on what’s truly important for our credit unions. 

Our credit union leaders must delegate as much of the task work as feasible to keep our strategic minds on the horizon. What’s next?

Delegation of tasks also can be good for morale. It can change up the mundane, provide leadership development opportunities, and even give employees a greater sense of purpose. Given that 70% of employees in a McKinsey study responded that their sense of purpose is defined by their work, it can certainly help provide an incentive to stay when they have meaningful work – or leave.

Alas, many of our smaller credit unions don’t have the people to delegate some of the work. Strategically, outsourcing for expertise is another great option for delegating. Here are some questions to consider when outsourcing:

  1. Obviously, are they capable of doing the task, and what’s the investment?
  2. How transparent do they seem to be?
  3. Do they listen to your perspective? 
  4. Do you feel you can trust them enough to listen to theirs?
  5. What’s your peers’ experience with this potential business partner?
  6. Do they seem to be a good cultural fit?
  7. What’s the holistic return on investment as in new opportunities, time or money saved, etc.?

Not all business partners are created equal. If you find the person you’re working with arrogant, it just adds to your stress. If the company is going to nickel and dime you, looking to fatten their wallets rather than your credit union’s coffers, you’re not going to earn the targeted return. You may end up with, for example, a new credit union website in the end, but how many deadlines did they blow along the way? Does the website really align with your vision?

We believe in the power of all credit unions, and we want their leaders to have more time for strategy so they, their credit unions, and their members can succeed. A good first step is learning to work smarter, not harder. Ready to get uncommn?


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