3 Things You Can Do To Change With Your Credit Union

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Change has become part of everyday life in credit unions, and employees who align themselves quickly and enthusiastically with their credit union's change initiatives are highly valued. Aligning yourself is not as difficult as many would have you believe and it provides big payoffs for both you and your CU.

What can you do to change with your credit union? You can become your own "idea architect" and design a "change blueprint" for yourself that will turn ideas for change into a pleasant reality for you. Just as good architects apply principles to effect the outcome of the structure they are designing, you must apply principles to effect the outcome of change on you. These principles include (1) Consciously choosing your response to change; (2) Knowing what to change and not change and (3) Guiding yourself through three stages of transition associated with change.

Choose your response to change. You have six response options, according to author Nate Booth. The three that don't serve you or your credit union well are ignoring, being apathetic, or resisting. These focus energy in a negative way and lead to dissatisfaction, conflict, and frustration. The three that will serve you and your credit union well are reacting, anticipating, and creating. These focus energy in a positive way and lead to confidence, competence, and control.

Sometimes change comes so fast that you must react quickly. It's similar to being in an intersection when someone runs a red light. You need to slam on your breaks or swerve to avoid a collision. The speed of your reaction will determine the outcome. When organizations are blindsided you must react quickly to keep your bearing.

Other times, you can anticipate change and plan for it. Obviously this is useful in that it allows for you to emotionally and psychologically prepare for it. This is similar to seeing a "road closed ahead" sign and being able to plan an alternative route. Sometimes you and your credit union can see the writing on the wall and act accordingly.

Then there are times when you can actually create change yourself. Many individuals and credit unions choose to do this before they are forced to change. This is similar to determining your own destination and the route you will take to get there.

The speed and intensity of change today may lead you to believe you have little control over change. You may not be able to control all the changes that will affect you, but you can always choose your response.

Determine what will and will not change. Confucius once said, "only the wisest and stupidest of men never change." While it's wise not to change basic principles of human respect, it is stupid not to change erroneous beliefs and outdated strategies. You must know when to be flexible and when to be firm. Be flexible in strategy but firm in values.

Strategy is just strategy-a set of actions to achieve a desired outcome. Just as your personal strategies change depending on factors such as goals, strengths, weaknesses, health, and stages of life, so, too, do organizational strategies change. Core values, on the other hand, are a timeless and universal foundation for human interactions. No matter who you are or where you work, you want to be treated with respect, integrity, and dignity. These core values should never change and they should always accompany strategy. When core values are your foundation, the winds of change can blow all around you without your losing your balance.

Guide yourself through stages of transition. Organizational change requires personal transition. Although an external event such as a merger can cause a change at a particular time, your internal transition to function well within that merger occurs over time. That internal transition involves working through three stages identified by William Bridges: the ending, the neutral zone, and the new beginning.

The ending involves letting go of old ways of doing things. You may feel competent and comfortable in your job and prefer not to change, but that doesn't mean that you won't eventually feel competent and comfortable in your new job. Rituals help you let go of old ways-weddings, funerals, birthday parties serve that function in our personal lives. Adding some ritual to changes in your life can help you get through transition.

The neutral zone is that in-between place where you feel lost and confused. You may long to go back to the good old days and you don't feel ready to move forward. It's an emotional roller coaster. The best thing about the neutral zone is it's an opportunity for growth. Looking inward while in the neutral zone can help you tap into your creativity and discover strengths you didn't know you had.

The new beginning is when you've aligned yourself internally with the external change; you adopt new thinking and behaviors the change brings with it. Both the challenges and opportunities associated with it seem more manageable and you feel more in control. Viewing the new beginning as a source of renewal will keep your life interesting and rewarding.

Although many people believe change is always stressful, it doesn't have to be. Think of yourself as an "idea architect" who must design a system to make change work for you. Base your design on three principles: choose a useful response to change, determine what will and will not change, and guide yourself through the three stages of transition. You may just find yourself aligning yourself more quickly with your credit union's changes and enjoying them as well.

Barbara Wirtz is a frequent speaker at credit union conferences,and also conducts training, and facilitates retreats. She can be reached at bwirtz wirtzconsulting.com, (541) 344-8213, or at www.wirtzconsulting.com

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