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Mentor Instead of Manage

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BY KENNETH C. BATOR

Are your credit union employees engaged or disengaged? If the answer to that question is the latter, how can you expect your members to be engaged? These three solution strategies will help you give your CU staff members an active voice in your organization that loudly and clearly resounds with your members.

“They just don’t listen!” “They care more about living off of daddy than actually working for a living.” “As soon as I train them they leave so I don’t bother putting much time into new employees.” These are all direct quotes from some of my credit union clients concerning their staff that they uttered during conversations I have had with them over the past five years. These folks were clearly frustrated.

Just as unfortunate, I know the staff members who reported to them were equally annoyed. It was clear in each situation that the employees were disengaged from the organization. Many of them were actively looking for other jobs and most, if not all, were doing just enough not to get canned. The motivation for these employees in these situations certainly was the opposite of “going above and beyond.”

I truly believe that the biggest casualty of the financial crisis in this country, which began in 2008 – and I would argue we have never recovered from, is employee engagement. The divisiveness I see lately, whether it be arguments over minimum wage or blatant violence among supporters of different presidential candidates, has perpetuated the strongest and quite possibly scariest “us vs. them” mentality I have ever witnessed.

The causes of the divide between subordinate and manager, not to mention the cancer that is plaguing the health of employee engagement, certainly didn’t just mystically rear their ugly heads for the first time in the last eight years. These issues have been around for decades, probably even centuries. They simply have been magnified and exacerbated since the rise of the new normal, which is characterized by a ridiculously high speed of change, continual uncertainty and constant chaos.

Case in point, since the mid-1980s I have worked for 10 different employers. These were actual traditional, earn-a-paycheck jobs, not contractual engagements as I have today. Among those 10 workplaces, I truly felt respected within only 1.75 of them. Respected for my ideas. Respected for my talents. Respected for what I could be.

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