“Change before you have to.” – Jack WelchChange - 1

Most businesses and industries, at some point, run the risk of slowing down and stagnating. Bereft of new ideas and fresh blood, they face a slow downward spiral that descends from excellence to mediocrity and eventually failure. Credit unions and banks are no different and no less susceptible to this danger.

How can you, as one person, help your bank or credit union avoid this? By becoming an agent
of change.

Agents of change are the voices of tough questions and challenging statements. They are often the ones with the guts to stand up and question that which they do not understand or believe to be beneficial. This means agents of change don’t just think outside the box, they stick lit TNT under it, step back and enjoy the show. Far from agent provocateurs that speak only to cause drama or unnecessary ripples, change agents take time to carefully what they choose to say. They also consider important elements like timing, place and audience. Most importantly, they pose questions and offer insightful comments in an appropriate, polite and productive manner.

Other important characteristics of a successful bank or credit union change agent include:

  • Patience: They realize change does not happen overnight and that they may not know everything about a particular situation necessary to offer truly effective insight. Banks and credit unions are notoriously slow to realize change. A change agent recognizes this and works to streamline the process whenever possible.
  • Trust: They take time to develop deep and meaningful workplace relationship rooted in trust. In this way, they help ensure their comments and questions are taken seriously and in the spirit in which they were offered. Trust is a difficult commodity to earn and an even harder one to regain once lost. Change sometimes requires that we take the risk of trusting people at their word to see just what kind of work of which they are capable.
  • Gravitas: This Latin word meaning “dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner” aptly describes successful change agents. This spirit is evident to their fellow workers and both attracts and inspires them. With the air of gravitas, change agents are also leaders of people and ideas. Look at the people with gravitas at your bank or credit union and learn from their model.

A stagnant pond breeds mosquitos. Old milk curdles. Very few things, in fact, that remain the same and never experience change or growth produce something of value. Credit unions and banks, in our ultra-competitive financial services marketplace, should seek out and encourage internal agents of change. Their messages and questions, while not always easy to hear, could be the future difference between a thriving financial institution and a boarded-up and vacant eyesore.