Reinvention of Self: It's Not Just for Celebrities Anymore

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Reinventing yourself is no longer a career strategy reserved for Hollywood entertainers and politicians. Job satisfaction in the American workplace has fallen to a record low of 45%, according to a recent survey by the Conference Board.

Economists are forecasting low job expansion and continued unemployment in many industries for the next few years. During the last economic downturn, organizations paid the price for maintaining large staffs; they are reluctant to "staff up" again. The result is that lay offs and downsizing will continue to be commonplace.

The greatest threat to the future of the credit union movement is not the banking industry, finance companies or the regulators-it is ignorance. Knowledgeable, well-trained staff and volunteers are the keys to keeping CUs efficient, productive and thriving into the future. The rapid technological and economic changes right now make it mandatory for continuous staff and volunteer training and retraining.

Change is no longer a force in the business environment-it is the business environment. We must develop a lifelong learning philosophy if we are to keep up with change. These new change dynamics require workers to learn and update their skills and competencies as changes occur on a regular basis. You are responsible for facilitating your development process. You need to have a strategy to maintain your professional and personal edge.

To maintain your position you'll want to be prepared to re-invent yourself. This includes developing new goals, job-related skills and keeping current as changes occur in the CU movement. Your plan should include support from your supervisor and/or top management. They are the key players in your growth process and should be consulted on a periodic basis to insure your plan is lasting and successful.

As an employee seeking professional growth, the ultimate responsibility for implementing your career plan rests with you. This means continually assessing your skills, interests, values and goals-and taking the initiative to seek growth opportunities.

Performing current job duties in an effective manner is a good beginning point for the career development process. Employees must bring their "A Game" to work everyday as well as garner the resources to make career growth a reality.

Employees should approach supervisors in a cooperative non-threatening manner regarding their training and career development. Emphasis should be on how the professional development process can improve employee performance in the CU.

And for the No. 2s waiting for their opportunity to take the reins, you may have to wait a bit longer since there will be a smaller pool of CUs to move into and current CEOs will be staying on longer. Focus on developing laterally, cross training, and being the unofficial VP of championing innovation, technology, process improvement and member centric wow service initiatives. Showing your competencies and success attributes in laying out your future vision for the credit union will help to separate your self when it comes time to interview for the top job.

Because the credit union movement has a long-standing tradition of promoting staff from within, an awareness of the career ladder in our movement is essential. Building your competencies and positive performance experiences should help to keep you positioned for growth opportunities. The work environment will continue to change rapidly and be more Darwinian and you need to become a survivor by adapting to change-one with resiliency who is not thrown by crisis, defeats, or failures. Your future success will be measured by how much you invest in keeping your self growing and going and "Never Letting Go of Your Dreams"!

Strategies to Improve Your Job Satisfaction/Prospects
• Keep Up Your Skills & Competencies
• Think Positive
• Challenge Yourself To Learn Something New
• Build Networks and Stay Connected
• Break Up the Monotony
• Look for Ways to Help Your CU Be Successful
• Learn to Think Outside The Organizational Box
• Reward Yourself Periodically by Celebrating Your Accomplishments
• Maintain A Survivor Mindset

John A. Vardallas is a Madison, Wis.-based speaker/consultant to credit unions who an be reached at (608)577-8707 or at

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