Common senseā€¦. Is it really that Common?
Posted by Ms. Susan Looney, SVP Human Resources, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 11/8/2013

In our nation, we continue to grow in diversity, and as such, so do our work places.  A diverse workforce combines workers from different backgrounds and experiences that together breed a more creative, innovative, and productive workforce.  With those diverse backgrounds, do we all have the same perceptions, knowledge and experience to understand things as everyone else does?  In other words do we all have the same common sense?

Wikipedia states that common sense is a shared basic ability to perceive and understand things by nearly all people, and can be reasonably expected of nearly all people without any need for debate.  Common sense, as described by Merriam-Webster, is defined as beliefs or propositions that most people consider prudent and of sound judgment, without reliance on esoteric knowledge or study or research, but based upon what they see as knowledge held by people “in common”.

Thus “common sense,” in these definitions, equates to the knowledge and experience which most people already have. The word common, by definition, suggests that common sense is held by a large number of people.

So with the vast diversity of our staff and employees, can we rely on common sense?

I am not sure we really can.  However, we can make sure that all of our employees have the same “common sense” regarding policies, procedures and expectations by specifically spelling them out.  By facilitating a clear understanding of these areas, we can increase the knowledge and experience of our staff and avoid unfortunate and potentially serious misunderstandings.

We can help staff increase this knowledge and understanding by:

  1. Having clearly defined human resource and operational policies and procedures that spell out the rules that employees have to follow, the procedures to take under certain circumstances, and the “how to” approach situations at the credit union.
  2. Having clearly defined job descriptions for staff.  Job descriptions make it clear what employees are to do while working for the credit union.
  3. Having job standards developed for each position.  Job standards go further than explaining the job duties, the job standards detail how the job duties are to be performed.  For example if an employee’s job is to answer the phone, the job standard may be answering the phone by the third ring, in a pleasant voice with the standard credit union greeting.
  4. Developing member service standards to ensure employees know exactly how to treat members.  This can be as simple as stating the employees have to smile, call the member by name, eye contact and thanking the member for business.  It can also include details on how to handle transferred calls or angry members.
  5. Communicating and discussing all of the above with employees and providing training and feedback to employees on a continuous basis.

By communicating our rules, policies, procedures, and expectations clearly, and not relying on “common” sense, we can help employees to improve their knowledge, expertise, and overall experience in working at our credit unions.

We all know that diversity is a good thing… but how can you help improve the “common” sense at your credit union?

Categories: Education & Training, Employment & Staffing, Human Resources
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