Knowing some of the challenges senior managers face may help with the transition.
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All those projects, conversions and late hours have led you here, to the title of vice president. This is an amazing accomplishment, and you deserve it. A lot of hard work and dedication had to take place to get you here, and so begins the next phase of your career.
Transitioning from a mid-level manager to a higher-level position is extremely exciting and provides a huge boost in confidence, until it doesn’t.
After the newness wears off, you may start to feel a bit overwhelmed and underqualified for the job.
Don’t worry. No one has made a mistake in giving you this opportunity; you’re simply adapting.
A higher level of information and the inner workings of the credit union have now been revealed to you. Let’s face it, this can be scary for even the most confident and talented players.
While some of your same stressors may remain, new challenges and responsibilities have emerged.
Let’s look at 10 potential challenges that may arise for you as a new VP.
10 Potential Challenges for New VPs and Senior Managers
1. Strategic Leadership: Shifting from your day-to-day department or branch operations to a strategic leadership role requires a much broader perspective and the ability to make decisions that align with the organization’s long-term goals.
2. Cross-Functional Collaboration: As a VP, you’ll need to work closely with various departments, such as finance, marketing and risk management. Effective collaboration and communication across these areas will be crucial. This can be extremely intimidating when working with seasoned members of the senior management team, but each VP is ultimately working for the success of the credit union.
And let’s not forget, this may be the first time you’ll interact with the board. Relax, you’ll soon find out that most board members truly respect what it is that you and your peers do each and every day for the members.
3. Leadership Development: Developing your team’s leadership skills and nurturing the talent within your department will be important for building a strong and capable workforce. Regular one-on-one coaching sessions with your direct, mid-level managers is essential to their development and growth. Having a set time for mentoring and feedback can dramatically improve skills, uncover weaknesses and address problems quickly.
4. Change Management: Introducing and implementing changes at an organizational level can be met with resistance. Adapting to new processes and encouraging buy-in from your team will be important.
5. Performance Metrics: Instead of focusing solely on your previous department or branch performance, you’ll need to manage performance at a higher level, monitoring key metrics for the entire credit union and identifying areas for improvement.
6. Strategic Planning: You’ll now be helping create and expected to execute the strategic plan that aligns with the credit union’s goals. This requires careful analysis, forecasting and decision-making to drive growth and success. It’s worth noting that many ideas and requests arise during planning, but there won’t always be the bandwidth or resources to address all of them within your desired timeframe. It is critical to keep the bigger, overall picture in mind.
7. Strategic Communication: Articulating the credit union’s vision, mission and strategies to your team and ensuring everyone understands their role in achieving these goals can be challenging but is necessary for success. Continual communication will be imperative. Your teams will require your guidance and an understanding of the “why” behind their tasks.
8. Risk Management: As a VP, you’ll have a greater responsibility in identifying and mitigating risks, both operational and financial, to ensure the credit union’s stability and compliance with regulations.
9. Technology Integration: Staying up to date with the latest technological advancements and integrating them into the credit union’s operations can enhance efficiency and member experience. Watch for “we’ve always done it this way” thinking, and approach it tactfully.
10. Member Experience Enhancement: Focusing on improving the overall member experience, from digital services to in-person interactions, is vital for retaining existing members and for attracting new ones. The term “member-facing employees” can be misleading, implying that the work of back-office staff is less impactful and even unrelated to the member relationship. No matter what department(s) you lead, the member experience should always remain a top priority.
Remember, while these challenges may seem daunting at first, your experience has equipped you with valuable skills that will contribute to your success in this new position.
Like you’ve probably done throughout your career, be adaptable and continue a proactive approach to learning and growth.
Lisa Miller is a former COO of a billion-dollar credit union with years of experience building strong, successful teams in the financial space. She created cuCoach to support our industry leaders by offering weekly professional coaching for mid- and senior-level managers.