A strategic plan is an important tool for any financial institution. It helps to ensure that all staff members are on the same page and provides a roadmap for reaching desired goals.
Unfortunately, even with careful planning, there can be issues or problems with a credit union’s strategic plan. This article will discuss some common challenges and provide actionable steps to help fix them. By going through these steps, financial institutions can get their credit union strategic plan back on track and achieve their desired outcomes.
Common Reasons Your Credit Union Strategic Plan Isn’t Working
CU Insights recently shared a quick and insightful article about the 3 reasons your credit union strategic plan isn’t working, and we wanted to talk about them here.
The most common problem is micro-management. If your leadership team has one or more individuals who are taking on too much and insisting your projects, progress, and pivots all go through them, it’s time to take a step back. Nothing derails a plan like someone who has to stop the assembly line to check every product themselves. There should almost always be QA checks in place already, and your managers and credit union leaders aren’t Santa – they don’t have to check everything twice.
“This is how it’s always been” is another strategic plan killer. It’s important to continue bridging the gap between things that have worked historically (and are still working) and the areas that will need some innovative improvements. A hybrid approach is a real possibility – you don’t have to choose between keeping things exactly the same or throwing everything out and starting from scratch. Use the insights you’ve gained over the years, for better and for worse, and then fuse those with new technologies and approaches that can augment your operational success.
Burnout and exhaustion are the number 3 most common reason your strategic plan has come off the rails a bit. Juggling too many things at once and trying to keep all the plates spinning is too much for any one person – flexibility is an essential part of your successful planning, but be careful not to deviate too far off the pre-determined path. It can suck up a lot of your time and energy and leave you lacking the stamina to tackle the next phases of your strategic plan.
Hone in on Your Core Strategic Planning Process Goals
We see people failing to hit their personal and professional goals every year. And many times, it’s an inability to focus in on the core goals that creates issues. For example, if you aren’t an active person and you also like to eat takeout for most meals, setting a New Year’s goal of walking 5 miles a day and eating only lean protein and vegetables is a great way to never reach those goals.
Credit unions have lots of goals to meet every year. Some of them are incremental, and some are one-off projects that require lots of time and energy, but only have to be done a few times in a decade or career.
A good strategic plan is targeted and stems from a focused analysis of your brand’s mission, vision, and values.
This doesn’t mean creating a plan that encompasses all of your community outreach, sales, account opening, lending, hiring, and compliance big goals. Some of these things will overlap, sure, but it’s important not to bite off more than you can chew. Most effective strategic plans have three core goals that will create momentum for the near future and provide insight and guidance into the next plans that will need to be carried out.
Double-check Your Resources
Mismanaging funds or resources is a huge reason why personal and professional plans fall through. Many first-time homebuyers don’t factor closing costs into their down payment. The new office space construction cost has risen with inflation. You used 60% of your allocated time and money on the first 20% of your project. There are tons of examples of this “working from a deficit” mindset.
When it comes to credit union strategic planning, it’s important to understand where your allocation of funds and resources can carry you, both in the best-case scenario where everything has gone according to plan and in the worst-case scenario where you can’t get the momentum you need from one day to the next.
Preparation is something worth spending your time on. If things aren’t well planned, they most certainly won’t be well-executed.
Strategic Plan Killer: Lack of Accountability
Often, ego and accountability don’t mix. Many credit union leaders are tasked with big decisions and must make them with confidence, but those decisions aren’t always going to be correct.
Industry stability has declined since the pandemic, from finance to real estate, manufacturing to entertainment, And with things changing so rapidly, it’s important to take accountability for the things that go wrong so we can learn from them and move on.
But often, office projects can lean into more political territory, where no one wants to admit fault for fear of looking weak or unqualified for their position.
Fostering a work culture that supports growth through success and failure is extremely important as you work through those tough spots in your strategic planning process.
Strategic Streamlining: An Asset to Your CU
Your KeyStone Core sits at the heart of your credit union. That’s why IMS Integration offers premier solutions for KeyStone users.
Working on your next strategic planning session? Reach out to us at IMS Integration today so we can discuss our solutions and help you build a targeted list of to-dos to get your credit union strategic plan on the right track for 2023 and beyond.