“Those who succeed were—at one point or another in their lives—willing to put themselves in situations that were uncomfortable , whereas the unsuccessful seek comfort from all their decisions.”
After your strategic planning session ends, how comfortable are you? If you’ve really stretched yourself and forged a bold vision for the next several years you should feel a little uncomfortable. Why? Because as John Maxwell once said, “Discomfort is a sign of growth.”
But too many times in our planning sessions we don’t push our credit unions or banks. Not really. We fall back into comfort zones. Strategies we know. Action plans we can accomplish. Deadlines we can meet.
We make easy choices rather than hard decisions. We push those “elephant in the room” discussions to the following year. We leave things unsaid. We don’t tackle the really challenging issues that are holding back our organization.
However, to truly succeed you need to make uncomfortable decisions part of your strategy.
Here are some difficult things you might need to consider:
- Spending more money. It’s all about the bottom line. But what if there are seasons when your credit union or bank needs to make an investment in a project that won’t necessarily yield a return this quarter? For example, you might need to spend more in technology to meet consumers’ demands or increase the marketing budget so you can develop a better brand. It might make you uncomfortable, but you might need to spend more money.
- Removing complacent employees. There are some people you’ve carried longer than their mother carried them when they were in the womb. You know who I’m talking about: those employees who are not buying into your organization but you keep just to have a body or someone to do the job. We tend to hire fast and fire slow. However, it should be the other way around: we should hire slow and fire fast. It might make you uncomfortable, but you might need to fire some employees.
- Changing ineffective board. Now we’re stepping on toes. Some boards have people on them they just shouldn’t. The “obnoxious, dominating” board member. The “disagrees with everything” board member. The “totally not engaged” board member. If you are honest with yourself, you know those individuals are holding back your credit union or bank. It might make you uncomfortable, but you might need to shake up your board.
- Closing underperforming branches. Branches can totally drain your profitability. Especially ones that don’t perform up to expectations. While it’s certainly important to give plenty of time to see if your locations will produce, you must be careful not to hold onto them forever. Branch accounting and analysis are must-haves in any credit union or bank. We like to add, but sometimes we need to cut. It might make you uncomfortable, but you might need to close a few locations.
A ship is safe in a harbor. But ships were not built for harbors. If you don’t make uncomfortable decisions at your credit union or bank then you are keeping your strategic ship in a harbor.