Numerica Credit Union Topples Yesterday’s Silos for Transparent Communication – Performance Soars
According to Numerica Credit Union’s CEO Carla Altepeter, her credit union used to be a culture of silos. “We were very centralized in our decision-making. Organization communication and our work systems were inconsistent,” she says. “Projects were backlogged and the competition was surpassing us in growth.”
Numerica also used to specialize in service recovery (correcting issues and errors). This recovery provided the credit union with great service marks, but this approach stressed out staff and was not a productive long-term strategy.
Working previously with Cardwell’s Connections Online (COL) strategy execution tool at another credit union, Altepeter implemented it at Numerica for increased alignment, accountability (performance management), and project management aspects. “We learned quickly that COL was also an outstanding tool for clear and consistent communication throughout the organization to achieve transparency at all levels – breaking down those silos that plagued our credit union for so long,” she says. “We had very talented, dedicated people who were spinning their wheels in high frustration.”
Today, the silos are gone. Numerica is aligned at all levels with an organizational framework: i.e. core purpose, five-year goal, strategic priorities, and measures. Those aspects are disseminated to the departments that have their own aligned goals, strategies, and measures – which are then disseminated to the individuals. Subsequently, the individual is connected to the department and the department is connected to the organization.
Cross-functional and multi-level teams
Instead of having one person leading all projects, now there are cross-functional and multi-level teams made up of experts on the topics, and internal consultants who add technical expertise to certain parts of the project, such as compliance, accounting, etc. This structure has given all impacted stakeholders real input, which has created employee excitement and ownership and resulted in higher quality output.
With these teams today, Numerica has moved the performance-impact needle. Last year, out of 21 organizational wide projects and 94 department projects, only two had minor reworks after completion. “Having a voice and a seat at the table has ignited our organization like never before,” Altepeter says.
As a result, the credit union is streamlining processes, adopting new systems and technology, and launching a rebranding campaign. Last year, for instance, Altepeter and her staff restructured the organization, completed 115 projects, hired 42 employees, and grew loans 21% (loans only grew 7.1% in 2011). Because of these successes, Numerica also met or exceeded 10 of its 12 critical measures for 2012. “Before our measures were usually good, but these were great!” she says.