Culture matters more than ever for today’s credit unions, and it is important for credit union leaders to invest in defining, building, and sustaining the desired culture rather than just letting it evolve on its own.

Here are five key realities to consider as you look to strengthen your culture:

Culture Reality #1–You cannot effectively pursue your strategy and expect to achieve your vision unless your culture supports the behaviors that will drive the right results.

Culture Reality #2–People cannot live a culture they do not know or understand–if you haven’t defined it clearly, communicated it widely, and committed to living it daily, then it will evolve on its own in directions that are unlikely to support success.

Culture Reality #3–Culture permeates every aspect of the your organization and must be consciously managed and incorporated into job descriptions, performance evaluations, and daily conversations.

Culture Reality #4–Simple wins when it comes to defining culture–fewer words, clear meanings, and memorability matter.

Culture Reality #5–If there is a lot of debate about the words to use when defining your culture, then you aren’t ready to define it because the shared agreement needed to sustain it is missing. Start with the areas of agreement and let it evolve, revisiting and expanding the definition as it is being lived.

ACTION ADVICE:  Start the conversation today–how do your employees see the culture of your credit union?  What works, what does not work, and what needs to be done to make the culture stronger?  Listen, learn, and leverage the insights you gain to implement a culture intervention that gets things on track so that your team can meet the challenge of achieving your strategic vision.