Revamped Training, Hiring Leads To Recognition

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DENHAM SPRINGS, La.-Since hiring Diane McDuff as its SVP of Relationship Management, Main Street Financial FCU has seen employee retention soar and morale improve despite layoffs. Turnover was slashed from 44% in 2008 to 27% in 2009, and Main Street Financial has lauded McDuff for bringing an "effectiveness to our hiring and training that was severely lacking in the past."

Her hands on efforts, which included assisting in company reorganization, the creation of the VP of Engagement within her division, and her work at straightening out human resources issues at the $112 million institution have led to McDuff being named Professional of the Year by NAFCU.

Credit Union Journal: Tell me a little about what was happening at Main Street Financial before you got there and what you've changed for the better.
Diane McDuff
: Casey Parker, relationship management manager, and I have developed a multi-layered hiring process that includes phone and panel interviews. Our hiring process is unique in that we don't require people to have past financial experience. We have found that when we hire people with the right personality we have better results. Basically, you can train someone without a financial background and help them develop skills needed for a specific job/task, but a personality is that unique something that each of us possess and some people are just better suited for customer service than others.

Hiring the right person is just the first step. We also wanted to make sure they were 100% ready to be on the front lines. This meant transforming our training process. Before we would just have new hires shadow for a couple of days and then send them out on their own. Today we have a wonderful program that includes in-depth training of credit union procedures, compliance, and cross selling techniques. We have learned that the better trained an employee is, the more engaged they are making them more receptive they our to our member's needs.

CUJ: Improving morale in light of layoffs is a tough order. How did you manage that?
McDuff
: The economy has affected employee morale. There is obvious stress and tension among the employees, which is why communication is so important. We work with our supervisors to ensure there is always a channel of communication with each and every employee.

Aside from communication, we try really hard to make Main Street Financial FCU a fun place to work. In the past we have had a group of employees come up with positive communication pieces for our bulletin boards, we have had an employee newsletter highlighting everyone's accomplishments, and awards. Recently we had an employee ice cream party at every branch to ring in the summer, and last fall we had a cream pie throwing booth to help raise money for NAFCU.

There is more than fun and games to keeping morale up. We also make sure to help each employee grow to their full potential with continual cross training so that they can move up when positions come available. Again, this helps employees stay engaged.

During our semi-annual company training we also include classes that will help our employee's overall well-being. We have had wellness classes, nutrition tips, and chair messages. When you feel good over all, it shows!

CUJ: How has the VP of Engagement improved member service and back-office efficiency?
McDuff
: This position is relatively new for Main Street Financial FCU, but we do have some specific goals we hope to achieve with this position. These goals include improved communication, increased cross selling and better identification of member needs.

I think that Tracy Dreher, VP of Engagement, will help us achieve these goals. Previously, she managed our call center, so this position was a perfect fit for her. She has the management skills and front-line experience. She can relate to the experiences of those on the front line, which makes her very approachable. Each month she will visit each of our locations to continue training not only on our current products and compliance procedures but also on our new products, such as our new student looan product. Tracy will also work with supervisors on coaching techniques to ensure that each employee grows to their full potential.

CUJ: Finally, what's your reaction to being named Professional of the Year?
McDuff
: Honestly, I was totally shocked and surprised. I had no idea that I was even nominated. I am honored and humbled that my CEO, Cary Anderson, and the selection committee found me worthy of this honor. We are a team at Main Street Financial FCU, everything that has been accomplished thus far has been the result of a team effort. I work with a great team, my department staff, the leadership staff, the front line, everyone; we accomplish goals together, not as individuals. So, I feel that this is really a team reward and is something that I will always treasure.

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