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Why Your Team Members Should Moonlight

Credit Union Magazine
March 4, 2015

Can you name the various characteristics a high-performing team member possesses?

Start with hard-working, analytical, sales-focused, servant-minded—someone who takes the initiative.

This describes a typical small business owner. So, what you are looking for is a team member with an entrepreneurial spirit.

In my experience, team members that have started, or want to start, their own businesses make fantastic employees. They are often creative, self-starting, and highly driven.

If they run a department for your credit union they will often run it as if it is their own. Therefore, ownership of opportunities and problems is not an issue.

For those reasons I rarely hire a new team member based on resume. Sure, it’s great to bring on staff with the experience and knowledge you are looking for because they can make an immediate impact.

But I’d rather hire someone with the qualities I am looking for and teach the rest.

You can teach someone how to open a share account or take a loan application. But you can’t teach phenomenal customer service or desire.

Want to be on the cutting edge and separate your credit union from the competition with innovative solutions? Encourage them to think like owners.

By fostering, rather than hindering, team members and their individual pursuits you are playing to their passions and strengths.

When you leverage their strengths and allow staff to focus on them, the benefit to your credit union can be dramatic: You will have happier, more productive team members that are engaged in what they are doing.

JONATHAN PATRICK is senior vice president/chief lending officer for $222 million asset UT Federal Credit Union in Knoxville, Tenn., and the founder of three startups. Patrick is a Credit Union Magazine 2014 Credit Union Rock Star.

(Via Credit Union Magazine)

Three Ways to Keep Your Best Employees from Leaving Your Firm

Ashley Binder
March 3, 2015

A few decades ago, it was fairly common for a person to secure a job immediately following graduation from school and remain with the company until retirement. Those days are gone, and now, hanging on to top talent is a significant concern for most employers. In October, PayScale, the online salary, benefits and compensation information company, reported that 82 percent of companies were worried about employee retention, up from 60 percent in early 2014. Never mind complex tax regs—it's workforce retention that's keeping employers awake at night.

While the PayScale survey spanned different industries, accountants are definitely among those feeling the pressure to identify, recruit, train, and retain talented people with specific skill sets. Accounting and finance jobs often pop up on lists of roles that are increasingly difficult to fill. To help get ahead of that curve, a firm should be well-respected and known within the industry and aim to be a place where talented professionals want to land. Engaging qualified candidates, before they even send in their resume, through larger firm initiatives like thought leadership, is a great way to top a professional wish list.

When you’ve attracted the right people with solid skills, you want to keep them. As with many other industries, the time and money accounting firms spend to ensure a new hire has career potential is significant. Holding on to a great employee takes more than just a competitive salary. Stellar incentives for winning new business, flextime, and the option to work from home all add to the compensation package. Nearly any firm could use some improvement in their retention strategy, and it requires tracking HR efforts that go beyond just the numbers. Here are three key tasks partners and managers can perform to keep valued staff members from leaving:

1. Communication is key.

A common complaint of staff members in many industries is that they don’t know what’s going on. This comment often frustrates management, particularly if they feel they are communicating organizational priorities or changes via a staff meeting or memo. The knowledge that staffers sometimes lack isn’t day-to-day information, but a high-level look at where the company or firm is headed. A management team that has open lines of communication is more likely to instill confidence in their employees and make them feel valued. Few people want to feel like just a worker bee. Just as you’d communicate with your client to build a solid relationship, offer your employees the same.

2. “Stay” interviews.

Many firms conduct exit interviews when an employee leaves the company, but some companies find it even more effective to ask staff why they stay with the firm. Why wait until you lose employees to pick their brains! One-on-one sit-downs can offer insight into what is working well for someone who has been with your firm for one, five or 10 years. Responses can illuminate company-specific concerns that can be addressed along with larger industry ones that may not be immediately actionable, but are still helpful for management to consider. If you operate a smaller firm, or think that staff could be turned off by the idea of offering honest feedback to partners or managers without judgment, consider taking the anonymous online survey approach to solicit both the positive and negative thoughts about the company.

A similar tactic is the 360 employee review. The 360 review marries the traditional approach—where a manager or partner evaluates employee performance—with an opportunity for the staff member to offer feedback to management. Employees like knowing their reviews are a two-way street and the reviews clarify the expectations for the employees' role and how they can get to the next level.

3. It is the little things.

Regardless of a firm’s size, small perks can make a big impact on employees. Weekly bagel breakfasts or monthly in-house happy hours demonstrate appreciation for your staff. Some firms have success with more out-of-the-box approaches to perks, like installing a video game system or ping-pong table for employee breaks (tech companies are notorious for this) or bringing a masseuse on-site for a day or two during busy season (strongly consider this; your staffers will thank you). Whatever the perk, making it a key point of employee culture allows staff to feel more relaxed when the days get longer and the pressure to perform is on. Plus, a signature perk from your firm helps with word-of-mouth when recruiting.

Set a management goal to increase the number of employees your firm retains this year. If your 50-person staff typically loses 10 people over the course of a year, incorporate any or all of these strategies moving forward to aim to cut that number in half by 2016. Be a cheerleader for your firm and you may have fewer conversations that include the phrase, “I’ve accepted another offer…” in 2015.

Ashley Binder is data and research manager for Sageworks, a financial information company that provides analytical services and solutions to financial institutions. Contact her at This article originally appeared on

Many Employers Face New Reporting Requirements under ACA in 2015

Plante Moran
February 23, 2015

As the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue to phase in, many employers will need to create or modify systems and processes to collect the information that they must report to the federal government. A new rule that went into effect on January 1, 2015, requires many businesses to gather information about the group health coverage that they offer their employees and report that information to their employees and to the IRS. The year-end reports (new IRS Forms 1095-B and 1094-C) will include specific information about employees covered in each month of the year, so employers need to begin collecting the data as soon as possible. 

Who Must File?

The new reporting rules apply to:

Businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees are exempt for the most part, although there’s a slightly different reporting requirement for any of those businesses that self-insure.

What Information Is Reported?

Employers that must file are required to report the following information about each employee to the IRS:

What Are Key Dates for the First Year of the New Rules?

Affected businesses should be aware of the following key dates:

Remember that employers must issue these forms annually starting in 2016, but the information that will be reported must be tracked starting January 1, 2015. Employers will have to certify coverage availability and employee elections for each month, not just one end-of-year total like a W-2 or 1099. Finally, the filing deadlines for these forms are hard deadlines. Extensions are not available.

What Steps Should You Take Now?

Every employer subject to these requirements should have a plan in place to gather and report the required information in a timely fashion. For employers trying to comply with the new rules, here are a few steps to get started:

We hope that this information provides a useful guide to verify that your business has the necessary processes in place to comply with the new rules. If you have any questions, contact your tax advisor soon. Employers are already required to be collecting this information, and any delays could make it harder to comply with the rules.

Plante Moran is one of the nation’s largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms. Reprinted with permission from


Succession Planning and Risk Mitigation: Do You Know Who Your Future Leaders Are?

Steve Gravenkemper
February 16, 2015

Risk mitigation—it is the phrase which calls organizations to action. Increasingly, financial institutions are recognizing that facilitating seamless leadership transitions for key positions is a critical factor in sustaining the success of their organizations. Proactive succession planning efforts reduce the risk of hiring and promotion mistakes, loss of institutional knowledge, and the negative impact of turnover in key roles.

Successful transitions (at the CEO or any level of the organization) result from being intentional and proactive in identifying and developing talent to supply your organization with leaders to effectively navigate through a dynamic and turbulent time period in the banking industry. So how can financial institutions better prepare for succession, create an effective plan, and mitigate the risks?
Below are four steps to effectively mitigate some of the risks with succession planning.

1. Start early.

Too often succession planning is addressed only when change is imminent or in response to an unexpected crisis or staff departure. These situations create more risk because pressure intensifies to make an immediate decision—often considering only the best available candidates who may not be the best choices for key open positions.

Starting early not only allows for better planning, but allows for talent development to take place at a more realistic and achievable pace (for example, skill building, transitioning client relationships, developing leadership competencies, etc.). Perhaps the best candidates are already employed by your financial institution. Developing candidates from within your organization provides the dual benefit of promoting leaders familiar with your organization’s culture and values as well as providing professional growth opportunities for your top talent.

2. Succession planning is a continuous process.

Best-in-class organizations recognize that succession planning is a process, not a one-time event. In most cases the hiring of a new CEO means a replacement plan was in place—which is very different from, and what most people painfully mistake for, a succession plan. In reality succession planning is an important and ongoing process for the organization. Some of the critical steps include:

The sponsorship of senior leaders is a key success factor. Succession planning efforts are most effective when the process is embraced as a key strategic initiative for the whole organization, not solely an “HR initiative.”

3. Assess candidates for key positions.

It is helpful to objectively evaluate the “fit” of candidates for open positions. This includes an assessment of their strengths and professional development areas. Use behavioral-based structured interview questions when interviewing candidates. These explore how candidates have handled key situations in their past by emphasizing behaviors that are directly relevant to being successful in the open position. Frequently, interviewers place too much emphasis on subjective factors, relying heavily on their “gut feeling” (for example, a firm hand shake, direct eye contact, shared interests with candidates, etc.).

Reaching out to a third-party assessor provides a way to obtain an objective assessment of a candidate’s strengths and professional development areas. The third party (for example, Plante Moran) could assess the individual’s interests, cognitive abilities, and personality profile. With this information, a frank and honest discussion may take place about a candidate’s strengths, development areas, and overall fit for the position and organization.

4. Develop internal talent.

Assessment results may suggest the internal candidate is not ready now, yet provide specific recommendations for developing key skills that better prepare that candidate for future opportunities. Suggestions might include: formal training programs, internal mentoring, executive coaching, job rotations, additional stretch assignments, and a variety of other developmental opportunities. Consequently, the mantra to “start early” can ensure that organizations develop a talent pipeline that is prepared to fill future leadership roles when needed. Conducting annual reviews of top talent in the organization, sometimes referred to as a “talent roundtable,” enables the senior leadership to monitor progress and make suggestions as needed.

Succession planning is an important strategic business initiative for all organizations. By (1) starting early, (2) embracing succession planning as a process, not a one-time event, (3) objectively assessing candidates for key positions, and (4) developing talent, you can ensure that your organization has effective leaders prepared to fill key roles to meet the business challenges of today and tomorrow.

Steve Gravenkemper specializes in talent and organizational development for Plante Moran, a leading certified public accounting and business advisory firm. Contact him at 248-223-3699 or

Help Yourself by Serving Others

Matt Tenney
February 11, 2015

Helping others can transform both your personal and professional life, says leadership expert/author Matt Tenney.

Tenney’s personal shift toward helping others took him from prisoner to monk, and changed his life.

“The more I focused on how to serve others, the happier I became and the more success I had,” says Tenney, who explains his transformation in the book “Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom.”

That approach works not only in your personal life but in business, too, according to Tenney.

“Servant leadership” has paid dividends for many credit unions because it intertwines with the movement’s cooperative principles.

The reason: Fostering a rewarding work environment leads to better performance, products, and member service.

According to Tenney, servant leadership entails:

“If business leaders make serving and caring for the people on their teams and the communities around them a higher priority than quarterly profits or other numbers, they will have better success over the long term,” Tenney says.

Via Credit Union Front Line Newsletter

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