A key role of a leader is to know who’s crazy busy and who can help take up the slack.
Leaders are important in so-called “ordinary” times. In times of crises—and amidst the sweeping changes brought on by situations like the current COVID pandemic—leaders are critical.
Regardless of the department you lead or your title, it is likely that your operations, and maybe even your role, look different today than they did just a month ago. You might be seeing changes in the location of your staff, drive-thru/lobby member interactions, staff communications, training and workloads.
As we adjust, likely faster than we anticipated or prefer, we are seeing radical shifts in both what is done and how. This can mean strains on resources in some areas, while others are freed up. Leaders play a key role in recognizing these changes and should understand where their teams need help and where they have the capacity to help others.
Leaders at all levels should be engaging in sharing this information and identifying adjustments that can be made to support the organization and individual departments. An example of this in action at credit unions is the movement of tellers to support higher drive-thru traffic at another branch or cross-training tellers to support call center volume. As you reflect on this for your team, these questions can help get you started:
- Which roles have we seen the biggest adjustment in workflow?
- Do we have team members with space in their day based on changes in workloads?
- Are there projects we’ve put aside that could be worked on now? Are those projects still relevant?
- What changes have generated more work for our team?
- Which roles have seen increases in workloads?
- Do we have the staff available (time and skills) to meet these new needs?
As you reflect on your role as a leader supporting the needs of the credit union, here are questions you can ask your colleagues:
- Do you have staff in your department/on your team who are feeling overwhelmed with current workloads?
- How much additional help could you use to support your staff?
- What skills are needed for this work? Do you have team members with these skills or are there skills gaps?
- Do you have any staff with lighter workloads and capacity for other work?
- What opportunities do you see to cross-train staff to expand skillsets?
These questions are designed to provide support to your team and your credit union. They may also bring up emotions, including fear of losing staff and resources by sharing with others or worry about the time it could take to train someone on your processes.
As you encounter these feelings, challenge yourself to think them through. Reflect on the short-term versus long-term time and value involved in training someone new, recognizing that it may take time initially, but you’ll be creating a long-term resource. You may also consider the new skills your team can gain from cross-training, benefiting your team and the organization in the long run.
As we are all a little stretched or are looking for ways to engage staff with lighter workloads, reflect and discuss opportunities to support your current state and create opportunities for the future.
Jennifer Stangl is director of professional development at CUES.