Six Elements for Maximum Motivation of Credit Union Staff

By Holly Herman


So much has been written about this subject. What more can you learn?

The reality is you can’t motivate someone else, you can only motivate yourself. The most you can do as a leader is create an environment that holds the greatest possibility for motivation.

There are six elements that have to be present in your environment to maximize the motivation of your staff. Do these exist in your credit union?

  1. “Brightness of the future.” Every employee needs to understand where the credit union is headed, that the future will be a better place. What exciting things are coming, and does everyone know what those are?
  2. Knowing that what they do matters. From the mail room to your executives, each employee needs to understand how their contribution fits into the whole. Does everyone know that their efforts mean something and why their efforts are vital?
  3. The bigger picture or cause. This one should be easy. We’re credit unions, people helping people. How is the credit union making the world a better place? Don’t assume your employees read your marketing material. They need to hear this message over and over again.
  4. Pride and appreciation. Create a culture of acknowledgment and appreciation. You’ll know you’ve done this if you hear employees from all levels thanking each other. Acknowledgment and appreciation come from everyone, bottom up, top down and peer-to-peer.
  5. Ability to grow and learn. Too expensive? Get creative. Staff members have talents they would like to share, so give them the opportunity to create a class. Bring in someone for a full day to develop a group rather than one person at a time. The per-person cost goes way down. Help them grow.
    Note: Personal development is as important as specific professional development. It shows you care about developing better people creating better employees.
    Idea: Bring in a professional organizer to show what workflow is all about!
  6. The safety to make mistakes. No one makes a mistake on purpose. Is it a system problem, training issue or environment issue? Promote mistakes—no, understand mistakes. That’s part of business. Eliminate the fear and replace it with a learning opportunity. When mistakes happen, follow them by asking, “What can we do to ensure this doesn’t happen again?”

Now is the time to ask yourself, “What evidence do I have that each of these elements exists in my credit union?” Can you document these elements? On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate your credit union? How does your staff rate your credit union on these elements?

Make sure the implementation of these elements is effective and is getting through to everyone. Clear, constant communication is the key. You want outstanding, talented people in your credit union, so make sure you have an environment that supports them.

What are you doing now that inspires your group, is worth talking about, and adds value for others? You are the inspiration!

For More Information…

Holly Herman has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, and she will be the featured presenter at the Northwest Credit Union Association’s (NWCUA’s) Woman Up Seminar on April 19 in Tigard, Ore. Herman has served as the CEO of two large credit unions, received a political appointment as chief of staff to the NCUA Chairman, and been elected to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board of directors.

The Woman Up Seminar is a one-day event that aims to find out exactly what it means to be a woman in a position of leadership, a woman in the credit union movement, and a working woman in the 21st Century. Then participants will work to apply that knowledge. Whether you are looking to further establish yourself as an industry leader or to take a step forward as a young professional, this is an event that should not be missed.

A 19-year study conducted by Pepperdine University found that the Fortune 500 firms with the best records of putting women at the top were 18 to 69 percent more profitable than the median companies in their industries. This means that an organization’s bottom line benefits when it truly values its employees, when everyone is given a voice and an opportunity to succeed.

In other words, credit unions that invest in their employees are more likely to flourish.

The early registration discount for the Woman Up Seminar ends on March 23. Visit the NWCUA’s website to register or to find more information.


Questions? Contact Training Programs Coordinator Yuri Jung: 206.340.4817,

Posted in Compliance News, Events.