Leading an Engaged and Inclusive Credit Union

CUES podcast logo and image of guest Kathleen O’Connor
By Kathleen O’Connor

diversity equity and inclusion resources from CUES

Employee engagement is often discussed but O’Connor nails down a formal, research-world definition of it in this podcast: “Engagement is a positive, work-related state of fulfillment characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption.”

O’Connor says leaders who succeed in engaging their employees are creating a self-managing system in which staff members work more autonomously. “This frees us up to do our jobs and it really unleashes the business to be able to work at maximal efficiency and effectiveness so we get better results,” she explains in the episode.

Cultures of engagement have three key characteristics, O’Connor says: autonomy (employees feel they have more control over their schedules and work); a sense of belonging (employees feel included in the important work of the day); and playing to each individual’s strengths (employees feel their leaders know them and give them work appropriate to their developing abilities).

In keeping with the life mantra O’Connor sets forth in the program—"What’s the worst that can happen?”—she suggests credit union leaders be willing to run some experiments to see what simple, inexpensive actions they take will boost engagement. She often sends clients into a leadership brainstorm session around providing more autonomy, supporting a sense of belonging, and making sure managers know employees well enough to decide which projects to assign to whom. Then she encourages them to try out their ideas. They are sometimes surprised by the fast and excellent results they get, she notes.

The show also gets into:

  • More explanation of what employee engagement is and each characteristics of a culture of engagement
  • More strategies for boosting employees’ autonomy, sense of belonging and playing to strengths
  • Another exercise leaders can do to better understand employee engagement
  • The impact on members when employees are more engaged
  • How this same framework for employee engagement might be applied to boosting member engagement with your credit union

Be sure to tune in!

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