November 2, 2012
Credit unions looking to add employee development options might consider hosting a book club. Mandatory or not, book clubs offer employees a chance to improve communication, learn and build relationships between co-workers.
At $41 million/3,123-member Badger Globe Credit Union, Neenah, Wis., CUES member Carla Watson, president/CEO, knows that continuing to learn is important. This is why she started the CU’s “Read to Succeed” program.
Each year, for the past five years, employees voluntarily sign up for a monthly book report. During the CU’s monthly staff meeting one employee presents the title, author, main points, and things learned from the book that he or she chose. The reports are kept on file so employees are able to go back and read what co-workers had learned.
The reading program doesn’t just involve learning; it helps employees speak in a group setting. “Some employees love to read but don’t like to speak in public,” says Watson. “This is a great way to get people to open up.”
Books are provided by the CU and some include: Who Moved my Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson, Fish by Stephen Lundin, and The New Gold Standard by Joseph Michelli. Each book has a different theme, but each helps employees learn and take away a valuable lesson to spread to other employees.
With the advancement of technology, Watson is looking to purchase two Nooks for employees to use and accumulate books onto. She also wants to gather information from other CUs that offer similar programs.
At $1 billion/100,000-member Gesa Credit Union, Richland, Wash., employees enjoy building relationships through a book club with confidential discussions.
CUES member Patty Nelson, training specialist at Gesa CU, began the CU’s “Breakfast Club” program because she is an avid reader and thought other employees might benefit from reading as well. At Gesa CU, employees can freely join the reading program, which meets once a month for one hour starting at 8 a.m. Employees either meet at the main location or call in over the phone from remote branches. Since starting the program in January 2011 with 12 members, the club has grown to more than 44 participants.
Employees all read the same book provided by the CU. To select the books, Nelson often uses www.Simpletruths.com, which offers a variety of books that feature both personal and professional takeaways. “This is a time for growth either personally or professionally,” states Nelson. “What is shared during the meetings stays in the meetings.”
One book the group read was The 100/0 Principle by Al Ritter, which discusses building a relationship by giving 100 percent and, in return, expecting nothing.
As each month passes, Nelson hopes “employees’ professional and personal lives will be enriched, and that they are able to live a more productive life outside of the CU.”
Lauren Etter, a former CUES editorial intern, studies communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis.