Posted by Ms. Susan Looney, SVP Human Resources, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 9/17/2014

As a Human Resources Consultant, I frequently train managers how to deliver feedback to employees in a constructive manner. However, some people have a hard time accepting anything negative from their manager, no matter how well it is presented.So, why do some people have trouble accepting criticism?

When many of us receive criticism, our first reaction is to try to defend ourselves and even to lash back.  We tend to not hear the real message.  This is a problem, because we may miss an opportunity to see ourselves differently and learn something important about ourselves in the process. 

Instead we need to try to focus on how we can learn from criticism and grow in a positive way.

How can we do this?

I found the following tips that can help people accept criticism and learn from it.

  1. Take a deep breath - When you hear criticism it can be a shock.  Your blood pressure goes up and you want to lash back.  It has been proven scientifically that the brain does not think well under stress.  So what you need to do is to take about 3 – 5 seconds before you react.  Take a few breaths and think before you react.  Try to rise above the petty insults and attacks, and respond in a calm and positive manner. 
  2. Listen closely – Carefully dissect what is being said.  Even if you do not agree with the criticism, they are sending you a signal.  What is it they are really saying?  Realize that others may see something that you do not see.  Even if you don’t agree with the criticism, you more than likely are being perceived by others that way. Be open to the fact that others may be right, and use that possibility to look within yourself.  If you ignore critical comments, you're apt to repeat the same mistakes. Make sure you understand what they are saying. 
  3. What are the facts - Ask yourself, what are the true facts or issues in the criticism.  Try not to get defensive, but ask yourself, what can I learn?  When faced with criticism, most people focus on the negative part of the feedback and ignore the rest. This doesn't solve any problems, and you don't learn anything. When you can accept parts of the criticism, you can become open to learning. You don't have to agree with everything; even agreeing with one small aspect of the criticism will create an atmosphere of teamwork. The focus then can become how you'll work together to solve a problem.  This, in turn, will lessen your feelings of being attacked.
  4. Acknowledge the Speaker’s Point Of View -. As you listen, you may begin to disagree inwardly and eagerly await your chance to respond. However, try to put yourself in the speaker’s shoes. Repeat back your interpretation of what you heard.  Once there is understanding, you may say “I appreciate your honesty.”
  5. Don’t hold a grudge.  If you stay upset at the person who gave the criticism, it will adversely affect your relationship, which could adversely affect your job.   
  6. Accept that you are not perfect.  No one is perfect, we all make mistakes.  The most important thing when we make a mistake is that we learn from it.
  7. Do not take it personally. This is easier said than done.  However, if someone has criticism for you, remind yourself that it doesn't necessarily mean she/he doesn't like you, or that you're not good enough.

In summary, accepting criticism can be very difficult.  However, it is a critical skill one must learn.  It helps us learn about ourselves, so we can work together with others effectively.  It also provides an important opportunity for us to grow as people and professionals.

Categories: Human Resources
Posted by Mr. Dean Borland, SCMS, CUDE, VP Product Development, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 9/15/2014

There is a rumor going around that NCUA wants credit union planning to be strategic. NCUA might even like credit unions to prepare two-to-three year financial projections supporting their strategic plan. There’s another rumor that some credit union leaders don’t really like regulators telling you how to run the business but, given the uncertainty that lies ahead, why wouldn’t you create a longer-term plan and financial projections even if NCUA had not suggested it?

One of the things we typically do as part of Credit Union Resources’ (OnBalance) strategic planning facilitation is to conduct a pre-planning survey to get a feel for what planners are thinking. Some people are more willing to offer feedback in private than speaking up in a group. And, it helps us prepare for planning discussions. In a recent survey, credit union planners were asked, “What will be the the most important issues facing the ‘Credit Union’ in the next few years?” Answers included some typical concerns like “attract and retain staff,” “compliance and regulation,” “Federal taxation,” and “improving loan volume.” There were also some “global” concerns – “possible collapse of our economy within the next year,” “devaluation of the dollar here and abroad,” “runaway inflation,” and the inevitable “increasing interest rates.”

There was no survey feedback relating to world war, drought, or pestilence but we might as well throw them in also. After all, political and religious unrest continues in Ukraine and the Mideast, cloud seeding has begun in the region around Wichita Falls in an attempt to stimulate rainfall, and an exterminator is fighting a losing battle with fire ants and grasshoppers in my back yard!

With all that is going on, strategic planners should consider a variety of factors; external and internal / good and bad, the probability of an event happening, and how the credit union should respond to maintain safe and sound service to members. For most credit unions, if the planning horizon is only six months to a year, you may not see a threat or an emerging opportunity until it is too late to respond.

STRATEGIC planning should engage participants to look into the future. NCUA’s rumored request for a two-to-three year view is appropriate, even down to a multi-year financial projection. The BOARD OF DIRECTORS is responsible for setting the strategic vision for the credit union. Armed with strategic direction from the Board, Credit Union MANAGERS are responsible for establishing an annual operational plan (strategies and tactics) and budget to move the credit union toward achieving the Board’s vision.

If you are a director, and if you are more concerned about the color of the wall behind the teller counter or the stripes in the parking lot than you are about the Credit Union’s long-term viability, you are not thinking strategically. Step back and take a longer view. The economy may be on the mend, or maybe not. Either way, your long-term, strategic insights will help the credit union prepare for future success.

Credit Union Resources can help.

Your Business, Our Focus, Expert Solutions

Categories: Strategic Planning & Consulting
Posted by Ms. Pamela Blevins, Remote Financial Services Manager, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 9/12/2014

As the year comes to a close and we are in the final stretch for the race against time, do you know if you havecompleted your audit requirements?  It seems that everywhere we turn, we have one audit leering around the corner, and another audit needing to be scheduled that we did not even know about.  Pandora Poikilos once said, “Procrastination is the foundation of all disasters.”  The only way to defeat procrastination is to develop a plan, and the best laid plans come from knowing what to expect.  So what should you expect? Here is a list of audits you can consider when developing your plan.

Audit Type Timeframe Who is Required
Financial Audit Annually All credit unions
BSA/CIP/OFAC Annually All credit unions
BSA OFAC Risk Assessment Recommended annually of when changes occur products territory or change in BSA operations All credit unions
ACH Audit Annually by December 31st All credit unions
ACH Risk Assessment Recommended annually or when changes occur in the method used to receive ACH files All credit unions
748 Annual Review Annually All credit unions
IS&T Review (IT Audit) Recommended annually Depending on the Examiner.  Check with your Examiner
ATM Safety Evaluation Annually All Texas credit unions
Member Account Verification Every two years All credit unions
TR-39 PIN Audit Even number of years Network processors PULSE, STAR, NYCE, and CO-OP
Website Compliance Review Every other year or after a significant change or new product added to website Best practice all credit unions with a website
Safe Act Review Annually All credit unions who participate in mortgage Lending.


Now that you know what to expect, it is time to act.  Even if you have already satisfied all the 2014 audit requirements, the time to start thinking about 2015 is now.  It will be here before you know it.  Formulate a plan and hammer out when the best time to conduct these audits and reviews would be.  Try and determine the best time that would create the least impact on your credit union’s productivity.  Another helpful tip when scheduling your audits/reviews is to schedule them when the employee over that function is going to be present and during that employee’s slow time of the month or year.  So what are you waiting for? “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” Winston Churchill.

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