Leading During the COVID-19 Crisis

Leadership on video conference call


Credit unions are playing a critical role in supporting its members and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In many ways, credit unions are financial first responders for workers, businesses, families and communities to help weather the crisis. Although COVID-19 presents new challenges to how we operate, the same principles of leadership during a crisis remain the same. Your members and employees are looking to you for information, support and guidance during this time.

While we are still trying to determine what the long-term implications of where the pandemic will leave us, we know that every crisis has a beginning, middle and end. The future will leave us in a different state. It’s important to remember that the actions you take now can lead your organization to remaining resilient or on a path of chaos. 

With new information and regulations changing weekly, and even daily, it can be hard to sort through all the facts. However, there are steps you can take to improve the situation for your credit union.

Lead with communications

If you haven’t done so already, create a dedicated crisis management team. This is where you implement any emergency or disaster planning, preparation and testing to ensure operations run smoothly. A dedicated team will also be responsible for developing a protocol to monitor and report newly released information or regulations from all levels of governments. Knowing what’s happening in real time helps credit unions determine how to share updates with all employees and members. 

Members of the team should also be trained on executing the plan. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around, and your team should be helpful in sharing reliable information. Not only will this help your staff understand what’s happening, it will also ensure you’re providing the best service to members. Remember, always be transparent about what you know and don’t know. 

Collaborate with your team

Due to social distancing requirements, many of us are working from home – posing a different challenge trying to navigate remote working solutions. With teams split across various home offices for the foreseeable future, communication and collaboration can become strained. 

Whether it’s branch managers, human resources, IT or your legal team, COVID-19 will impact how work gets done. Additionally, credit unions are working across virtual environments to serve members. It’s essential to communicate more than you did before. Send more emails, establish regular meetings internally and with external partners so business runs smoothly. It may seem annoying at first, but having a clear flow of information keeps everyone on the same page.

Things are changing rapidly, so staff should know what’s coming down the pipeline and why decisions are made to avoid conflict. Selecting members from core operational teams for the dedicated COVID-19 team is another way for departments to make decisions and work together for a more effective response.

Plan for the unexpected

In one month, the financial world has experienced a level of disruption that will change the way we do business moving forward. The way we work and how members manage their money has changed. And the reality is we really don’t know how long it will take to recover from the pandemic. It’s best to prepare for the unexpected. 

Credit unions have to be more flexible and adapt to the times to support the needs of its members and take care of staff. Look for opportunities to reinvent how you use data and human resources, deliver digital solutions and engage with members. 

It’s clear the pandemic will create a new way of doing business. Let’s talk about tools that are available to strengthen and grow your credit union.