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Four Strategies for Effective Change Management for Credit Unions

14/11/2011


In any organization, effectively transitioning through periods of change can be an enormous challenge. For credit unions, consolidation and the implementation of new technology are two of the largest sources of change today; while they both offer benefits to members and staff, they also tend to cause anxiety and disruption. Change management strategies can help mitigate the effects on internal people and operations as well as on members. It also allows for an effective transition and helps you achieve the desired outcomes.

Consolidation can result in a significant disruption internally for a credit union. The merging of people, systems and processes is a daunting task that comes with high levels of anxiety due to changing the status quo and the potential for labour reduction.

Just as concerning with consolidation, decision-making is often taken out of the local market, causing a disconnect between the membership and those serving the membership at the highest level. This can lead to the perception that the market is being abandoned.

When it comes to technology, changes can allow you to improve service delivery or offerings, but that doesn’t mean staff and members will readily accept them. The need to do something in a new way or learn a completely new technology is often met with resistance; something as simple as changing an account number can be highly disruptive to the membership base without the proper change strategies in place.

Strategies for Making Successful Changes

Credit unions can make change easier on all parties by implementing a number of strategies:

Define and communicate the value of the change for both internal staff and credit union members.

Your leadership may understand why the change is taking place but that does not necessarily mean that the rest of the organization understands or has “bought in” unless the reasons are clearly communicated. Define and communicate your mandate and how this change will help you better meet member needs and create a compelling, clearly stated vision for the future.

Address potential barriers to success.

Before implementation, determine how staff and members might resist the change and design mitigation strategies that communicate the value of the change or the “what’s in it for me” to the end user or member.

Find people who believe in the change.

Identify these change agents in the organization who are recognized leaders and have clout and influence with both internal resources and the credit union membership. These people see the change as a positive move and can set the tone for others.

Set people up for success.

You cannot assume that people will be able to figure everything out by themselves as they navigate through a change. A certain level of structure must be in place. Ensure people feel fully supported and have the tools, processes and time to learn what they need to learn and to embrace the change.

Handle changes in technology carefully.

To gain acceptance, new technology must be seen as an enabler that is helping your credit union achieve something, not as a driver of change. Support the introduction of new technology with processes that are designed from the point of view of the staff or member, are understood, easy to use and beneficial.

Four Components of Effective Change Management

4 Components of Effective Change Management