Finding a passion and turning it into action

You don’t just wake up one day and decide that you are going to be passionate about something new. Finding a passion takes work, it takes trial and error, and sometimes it takes pure luck. I found my passion in political advocacy for credit unions through a little bit of all three. Because of my passion for political advocacy and my opportunity to pursue it at work, I am a more engaged team member, more vested in the outcomes of my members’ financial lives, and more involved with my team. Because of my passion, I am producing a greater return for my credit union in all facets of my job – all of this coming at a minimal cost.

What does internal grassroots advocacy mean? To me it means that as a team we are equipped to speak on behalf of our member owners. We are able and willing to address with our legislators the issues that impact our member-owned financial cooperatives. Seems simple enough, right?

So what’s the benefit of having an internal grassroots advocacy program? A major benefit, of course, is helping to steer our legislators toward credit union-friendly outcomes. At this point I know what you are thinking: I’ve heard this before – and I’m sure you have. We are always looking for ways to increase our voices with legislators and regulators. There’s nothing new here.

But I contend that in implementing this project we will also increase our team member engagement and that increased team member engagement will increase service levels. Increased service levels will increase our credit union’s net promoters, ultimately increasing the number of our members who consider themselves to be highly satisfied. This project differs from other advocacy-type initiatives. In addition to impacting legislation that supports vital credit union goals, we are using it as a means to develop our team and drive engagement.

The project
Since submitting my initial video, my first step was to get a baseline for our existing level of political advocacy by sending a survey to a group of branch leaders within Royal Credit Union. I looked at how involved they were currently, how involved they wished to be, and what obstacles were in their way.

The second step (to be completed over the next month) is to create a small focus group of engaged team members. This group will:

  • Analyze the data the survey data and determine action steps for highlighting our current strengths and correcting our current weaknesses.
  • Create consistent educational and engagement-driven communications.
  • Serve as the spokespersons for our internal advocacy efforts.
  • Implement action steps within their branches and departments. 

Consistent communication is the next step in the process. We will provide a steady stream of relevant information to our team, providing updates on action items via branch and department meetings along with the team member intranet and email.  

Throughout this project our team members will be actively engaged in advocacy. This may include contacting our legislators via email, social media or phone calls. 

Measuring the return
How can we measure success? When we look at the regulatory and legislative landscape, we can see the outcomes of the items that we supported or opposed and measure the responses we receive from our legislators.

What about engagement? How does any of this increase our team’s engagement? We know that the ability to grow and develop contributes to team member engagement. We know that having confidence in the future of our credit union drives engagement. We also know that a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that we contribute to the organization’s success help push engagement higher. I propose that being an active advocate for the credit union movement touches on all of these engagement drivers. 

Though this project may not be reinventing the wheel for political advocacy, I do believe that it approaches the objectives from a fresh perspective. We aren’t just approaching this as a way to influence legislation and regulation but as a way to increase our team’s overall engagement and as a way that they can achieve growth. It will not only provide avenues to protect the credit union movement but also strengthen the bond between the team and increase their participation in the credit union industry. 

Nathan Dormody