Measuring Performance Critical, But Meaningless If Proper Data Isn't Used

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That which gets measured gets done.

In other words, if credit union management sets an expectation for branch staff members- and measures it-those things will be accomplished.

That was the message from Glenn Strebe, CEO of Air Academy FCU in Colorado Springs, Colo. Strebe cautioned CUNA Operations, Sales and Service Council's conference here that research and statistics are important, but data can be both "a friend and an enemy."

For example, studies show the average credit union served 395 members per full-time employee in 2004, down from 454 per employee in 1994. "So, it appears on paper credit unions are less efficient," he said. "But the reason is, credit unions are offering more products and services than 10 years ago without adding employees."

The important thing for management to keep in mind is, benchmarks should be identified to help justify staffing levels at branches, Strebe continued.

He noted many of the conference's attendees held the title vice president of operations, which he said is the person responsible for strategically planning growth.

"Look at workload data and historical data. If the credit union is growing, it will have to hire more staff, or sacrifice service," he advised.

Stress & Rest Philosophy

People can be pushed beyond their capabilities for a short period of time, but then they crack, according to Strebe. A CEO's job is to "stress people out a little" when the staff is working well below their maximum capacity. However, he argued, people feel much less stressed at 90% capacity when they previously were at 100%, compared to being nudged from 60% to 80%.

"People will say they are busy all the time. With data, management can show them they are not busy," he said. "Data-based goals drive the future 'busy' factor. Data-based goals raise the bar. It is not manipulating people, but helping to guide them."

Setting Benchmarks

So what is the "right" amount of staffing, transactions and workload for a branch? Strebe reiterated that national average figures can be deceiving. He recommended taking into consideration the size of a credit union.

On average, tellers handle 2,884 transactions per month. Therefore, for every $100 million in assets, credit unions should expect to employ 10.2 tellers, he said.

For every 20,000 members, an average of 11.7 tellers. "These are national averages, so they don't apply to all. Small credit unions have significantly fewer tellers."

Other numbers of note: Strebe said it is "reasonable" to expect a phone center rep to handle 80 to 120 calls per day. A member service rep should take approximately 30 minutes opening a new account, including cross-selling, and about 20 minutes to close an account. Loans typically take 45 to 60 minutes.

General member service contact, which includes tasks such as ordering checks and answering questions, averages about 15 minutes.

"The summation will establish the workload for a branch," he said. "Management can derive the average number of members per full-time employee, and use this for planning credit union growth."

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