Don’t Let The Future Sneak Up on You: Developing Your Staff Now

Are you spending too much time looking for your organizations’ leader instead of helping a current employee achieve that goal?


Strong leadership is a must-have quality for today’s credit union to survive. 

Well, not even just credit unions.  It’s necessary across the board – small business, multi-national corporation, cooperative financial service provider, G8 nation, etc.

When Bill Gates began to transition his duties at Microsoft, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer’s names were right there in every news story and press release, letting investors and customers know who would be taking over what.  There were no ads in the Wall Street Journal.

At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the majority of Americans met for the first time the junior senator from Illinois, one Barack Obama, starting a courtship dance for the highest office in the land when the position was next due to be filled – 48  months down the road. 

Both Microsoft and the DNC took the long view.

In doing a brief check, I found five significant “name-brand” credit unions in the midst of a search for a new leader.  Some are billion dollar plus organizations.  Market leaders.  Product leaders.  The preferred financial provider for millions of individuals.

How did I find out that they’re in the midst of a search?  They’re running ads. 

I can’t help but wonder how much time has been preparing for this eventuality.  

Staff development can be the difference between an announcement that a successor is coming on board or that a successor is necessary.

I realize, of course, that I may be oversimplifying things a bit.  Comparing apples to oranges and all of that.  But in all seriousness, it seems staff development is one of those things that falls under the “a nice thing to do if we had the time” category management’s overall to-do list.

Where is it on your list? 

Here are a couple of quick questions you can use to determine the state of your staff development initiative.

  • Does each of your employees have a continuing career path within your organization?
  • Do you understand each employee’s emotional intelligence:  their current capacity for emotional and social functioning?
  • Have you identified the individual skills that need to be mastered in order for a job to be done effectively?  How do you compare your employees’ skills with the job’s requirements?
  • Have you identified the key values associated with each job responsibility?  How do you compare your employees’ values with the job’s requirements?
  • What are the required needs of each key management role?
  • What gaps exist in potential internal candidates?

There are a myriad of tools available that can help you review your workforce – online assessments, personal employee evaluations, career track development software, etc.  Answering these questions can be a great first step in identifying areas that need focus and preparing for the eventualities of management turnover. 

It’s never too early to start a comprehensive staff development plan.  However, it can be too late to be effective.