At your credit union strategic planning session, you (hopefully) have a diversity of opinions around the table. Diversity in this case means a good cross-representation of your organization’s staff.

Obviously, this means key players like the board of directors, CEO/president, various vice presidents and marketing/business development representation. You should also include representatives from your frontline consumer engagement staff and those more involved with back office operations.

While a key reason for this representation is certainly enhanced diversity of voices around the table, you must also look at your strategic planning session as a great opportunity to build bridges between staff.

For example, your or credit union president may spend most of his or her time working with the board and members of the executive leadership team. That person must also absolutely spend time with both frontline and back office staff, in order to gain a better appreciation for their roles and their importance to the proper functioning of your financial institution.

Similarly, your executive leadership team should look at the strategic planning process as an opportunity to strengthen ties with mid-level managers and branch personnel. How often do members of your executive leadership team have an opportunity to visit with (quite often) scattered and distant branches? The answer is “probably not enough.” Your strategic planning session offers a great opportunity to build bridges amongst these key players.

Lastly, as the leaders of the credit union, how much exposure does your board of directors have to staff other than the president and key members of the executive leadership team? Your entire organization looks to the board for leadership, guidance and support. The board of directors can certainly use the strategic planning process as a prime time to get in better sync with other members of your credit union team.

Your strategic planning session is designed to identify key initiatives and set plans in motion to achieve them. However, don’t lose sight of a terrific by-product of the strategic planning process — building stronger bridges with the rest of your team.