Culture is a critical success factor that leaders need to manage with intention. Today’s employees demand more than ever before from the places they work, and they want to be involved in shaping that. When they own the culture, they contribute more and create better results.

Over the years, I’ve had many people ask me if culture was really that big of a deal.

My answer is always an unequivocal YES! Here’s why…

Every business has a culture, whether or not it was intentionally defined, and anyone who touches your business at any level experiences it.

If you don’t believe that, think of the last time you had a really great (or really bad) experience somewhere. The “happiest place on Earth” comes to mind (and I probably don’t even need to tell you that I’m talking about Disney). If you have ever been there, you know how happy the employees are and how far out of their way they will go to make a park guest happy.

That is their company culture. It is what defines their brand (and the customer experience with that brand).

Creating successful outcomes for your credit union depends upon its culture. Here are three steps you can use to improve your credit union culture:

1. Define Your Culture
Defining culture is an ongoing, evolutionary process. Care needs to be taken to protect traditions while creating a future that will engage the team.

Assess your current situation by using surveys and focus groups to capture insights from all employees. Develop a list of common themes and use them to create a working definition of what your culture should be. Gather input from employees to improve it before you implement it.

2. Build Your Culture
Start the process of building your culture by sharing the definition with your team. Nothing is more important than getting their buy-in and asking for their support.

Create a special event to make the roll out of the culture definition memorable. Make it clear that you are committed to bringing the culture to life and making it real for everyone in the company. Invite your team to join you in living the culture daily and to help capture stories of people living the culture.

3. Sustain Your Culture
Culture is sustained when day-to-day actions are aligned with intention at all levels of the organization. Integrating your culture into every area of the business is the key.

Making the commitment to culture demands that you bring people into the organization who fit with the culture (and getting rid of those who do not). Nothing will derail your efforts faster than tolerating people who don’t live the culture. Add culture to the performance criteria for every job, and hold them accountable for it.

Credit union culture drives behavior, behavior drives habits, and habits create results. To build a successful organization, you must define and create an effective culture

Your first step: Take some time to start intentionally observing your credit union culture. Are your employees happy? Do your members feel that happiness at every touch point? If not, implement this three-step process for improving your credit union’s culture.