Article

HR Answers: Paving the Pathway to Success

stone paved pathway runs along shore at cliffside beach
By Angela Faust

5 minutes

CUTX expands talent development program to include growth opportunities for aspiring managers and senior leaders.

It’s been almost a year since our country experienced a record-high number of job openings, with an estimated 11.4 million in December 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now, as companies continue to try and fill the vacancies left by the pandemic, the struggle to hire qualified workers has never been more evident. Meanwhile, the need to retain top performers has never been more important.

The concept of nailing down recruitment and retention efforts to grow your business is by no means a new one. However, in an industry focused on building up its communities and providing members with financial education and wellness, credit unions understand the importance of investing in talent development to achieve long-term success.

At Credit Union of Texas, our team serves more than 150,000 members in one of the fastest-growing regions in the country. As a result, we have to be creative to maintain a steady pipeline of qualified talent to remain competitive.

Earlier this year, our team also recognized the importance of developing leaders within our organization to carry out our mission of providing members with financial education and improving their financial situations. This recognition, combined with an increasing desire from our employees for more professional growth opportunities, resulted in the launch of a talent development program at CUTX called Pathways. Unlike talent development programs that focus primarily on the growth of early-career employees, the Pathways program offers both a management track and a senior leader track.

Pathways to Leadership

So, how does it work? Let’s start with the similarities. The management track and senior leader track mirror each other in that they both admit up to four employees each year with the same goal in mind—providing education to employees to better equip them to serve our members.

Now, the differences: The management track, tailored to those looking for a management position within the credit union, is open to all employees who apply and submit a letter of recommendation from their current manager. Employees who are accepted into the program spend two years in rotation, training in various roles across multiple departments.

At CUTX, those two years are broken up into four six-month training periods. During that time, participants learn about each department within the credit union, including branch operations, sales and service, marketing, community engagement, contact center, fraud, compliance, human resources, accounting/finance and information technology. Leadership team members mentor management track participants on such key aspects of successful management as effective team leadership, CUTX management standards and the art of difficult conversations. Following each training period, employees must pass the department’s certification process. After completing the program, employees are eligible for a management position within the company.

The senior leader track fosters the growth of those aspiring to assume a vice president-level role within the organization. This track is open to all employees to apply; however, previous management experience is preferred. All participants are enrolled in a formal education program where they gain essential senior leadership knowledge and skills relevant to the financial services industry, including risk and compliance, finance and investments, entrepreneurship, business intelligence and operations.

As an extension of the program’s purpose—to provide education—senior leader track participants are eligible to earn a company-paid MBA through the SMU Cox School of Business, where CUTX president/CEO Eric Pointer, a CUES member, received his MBA. Following completion of the senior leader track, participants are poised to step into VP positions within the credit union.

This process not only emphasizes our organization’s investment in its employees but also its focus on servant leadership and leading by example. Strong leaders build strong leaders. That’s also why we implemented the Experience Champions program, which recognizes employees each year who have delivered an outstanding member experience. This includes a monetary prize and caricatures of each winner displayed in the corporate office and an annual event recognizing winners with a championship belt and a bonus.

3 Keys to a Successful Talent Development Program

With all that in mind, here are the three key elements all credit unions should consider when implementing talent development programs of their own.

  1. Remember your goal. Educate, educate, educate. Credit unions strive to provide their members with the financial education necessary to achieve financial wellness. Well-educated employees mean improved member relationships, increased engagement with members and a more successful credit union overall.
  2. Tailor your talent development to the talent itself. Too many talent development programs are one-dimensional in that they only apply to early-career employees or employees in certain departments. Your team is full of employees with varying levels of experience, education and skills, so make sure your talent development program accounts for that by offering multiple tracks and opportunities for growth.
  3. Trust the process. Investing in your employees is just that, an investment. It takes time. You can’t expect employees to soak in years’ worth of information in a matter of weeks. Allotting adequate time to employees’ talent development allows for increased industry knowledge, productivity and more buy-in from employees. Ultimately, it also grants credit union members access to a team of experts who are now better educated and better equipped to help them achieve financial well-being.

Recruiting high-level talent and retaining top performers will always play a vital role in helping businesses thrive. As long as hiring challenges exist, credit unions must evolve, think creatively and implement talent development programs that ensure their employees are here to stay.

CUES member Angela Faust is chief operations officer for $2 billion Credit Union of Texas.

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