At West Community our vision is to “enrich the lives of our members, staff and community through superior knowledge, innovative resources, and financial dream fulfillment.” The attainment of our vision is no small feat. No one initiative can lead to the sustainable achievement of it. It takes several carefully aligned initiatives that tie tactical needs to strategic objectives. NeXt! 2.0 is a program that complements other initiatives to do exactly that.
One of our major strategic initiatives is to align our workforce capacity and capabilities with our other strategies to achieve the desired outcomes. To achieve this initiative we have established a leadership development program for existing managers. It is a fantastic program, but it leaves a few unanswered questions such as:
- What about the employees without the word manager in their title that seek additional development?
- What about the managers that are interested in developing more than just their leadership skills?
- How can we create dynamic adaptable employees that are prepared for a multitude of potential roles?
The remedy for us was simple. We seek lifelong partnerships with our employees. We want to invest in them so they invest in us. NeXt! 2.0 is a way for us to freely invest in our employees that have a strong desire for growth. We do this by providing participants, who we commonly refer to as nexters, with access to resources and opportunities that may otherwise not have been afforded to them. We do this because providing them with access is like providing them with limitless opportunities to discover their untapped potential.
We are one year into the program and have already experienced results that we could not even imagine possible at inception. Our nexters have been busy squeezing in opportunities every available minute to become more dynamic professionals.
Two nexters spent a majority of 2015 completing work comparable to a graduate level course by serving as examiners for the Missouri Quality Award, which is our state version of the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award. They now have a comprehensive understanding of how best-in-class businesses operate with systematic and repeatable processes that align vision, strategy, and tactics and actively seek cycles of improvement. Our strategic journey has brought us to a place where we are adopting these practices. These two nexters will play a vital role with the achievement and long term sustainability of it.
Three nexters were selected as crashers through Filene’s Cooperative Trust. Their experiences enhanced their dedication to credit unions transforming them into passionate advocates. The personal and professional growth obtained will help one day lead them to fill future leadership voids.
Many nexters have been making a name for the credit union in the communities we serve by actively participating in functions hosted by the chambers of commerce. We are building relationships and advocating for credit unions. The chambers have loved seeing so many of us in attendance. It is getting our name out there, which is imperative for any credit union attempting to grow and strengthen their ties with the community.
While these are impressive results, they should not discount the smaller successes NeXt! 2.0 has achieved. Nexters have been exposed to organizations like the Cooperative Trust, Filene, CUES, and WOCCU. In addition, they have been encouraged to follow and engage with industry leaders and influencers through social media sites like Twitter. This exposure creates an environment where the mantra “knowledge is power” wins. Nexters have a more well-rounded view of our industry. They have been exposed to thoughts, ideas, and resources that allow them to take a different approach with their work and develop more creative and innovative solutions which ultimately leads to providing more effect and efficient solutions for our members.
This is just the tip of the results iceberg! NeXt! 2.0 is a powerhouse program that packs a mighty impactful punch.
Some may be wondering though, what happens if you develop nexters and they leave? My response is what if we don’t and they stay? Yes, we understand that some of them may not be lifelong employees with us and that is ok. We want them to be the best employee they can be while they are here. If they leave us, we want them to be leaving as a passionate advocate that could one day serve on our board of directors!
I guarantee you have a group of employees at your credit union that possess the same desire and drive as my nexters. What are you going to do about it?