Lesley Pierce, Senior HR Manager, Credit Union 1
Lesley Pierce was on the ground floor of something big in Anchorage, AK — drive-through coffee. Pouring espresso from inside the tiny booth that housed Latte Da!, she had a sense of the headaches associated with hiring and staffing such a crucial part of the city’s morning commute.
That was more than 16 years ago. Today, as senior manager of human resources at Credit Union 1 ($969.9M, Anchorage, AK), she still values the lessons she learned about customer service in a hectic work environment.
Pierce, who holds an English degree from the University of Anchorage, started at Credit Union 1 as the switchboard operator before moving into marketing and then HR. Here, she shares insight on hiring the right people, working with millennials, and promoting new programs in the workplace.
You can recognize a person’s skills and abilities, but if that’s not what they want for themselves, you’re just forcing them out the door.
On making a good hire …
Unfortunately, you cannot hire for common sense, but I’ve learned to look for clues such as body language and behavior. To a certain extent, you have to use your gut instincts in a legal and ethical way and then trust those instincts.
On her leadership style …
I don’t care how my team members get the job done, I just want them to get it done. The more I can empower my staff, the more they can achieve. The less I micromanage them, the better off they are.
I have a 30-minute weekly meeting with each of my staff members. Ten minutes is on what they see in their future and 10 minutes is on what I see. The last 10 minutes is action planning for the goals we’ve just discussed
On working with millennials …
I have all millennials in my department, and my staff would like a “thank you” every five minutes or a certificate that shows they’ve done what they’re supposed to be doing. They also want to learn as much as they can so they can help the employees. That kind of enthusiasm is a great reason for anyone to want to work with millennials.
On professional and personal inspiration …
My inspiration is Leslie Ellis, our former CEO who was appointed to the job at age 25. She didn’t need to take an interest in me, a little switchboard operator 16 years ago, but that’s who she was. She taught me how important it is to volunteer and be a part of the community.
CU QUICK FACTS
Credit Union 1
HQ: Anchorage, AK
Data as of 03.31.16
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 5.10%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 7.47%
She also started our Learning Center. We have 32 children in an accredited program offered to employees at a discounted rate. There’s a waiting list to get in, and we have people applying for jobs with us because they’ve heard about our Learning Center.
On accomplishments …
I’m proud of our wellness program. We offer a health coach, a 24-hour nurse line, on-site blood work testing, and individual assessments as well as a competitive and comprehensive benefit plan.
The program has had a big impact on our workforce. People have found out they have diseases. We brought in Weight Watchers the first year and participants collectively lost more than 700 pounds. We’ve impacted people in their personal and professional lives.
On her career’s teaching moments …
I once had an employee whom I wanted more for than they wanted for themselves. And I lost them over that. I learned you can recognize a person’s skills and abilities, but if that’s not what they want for themselves, you’re just forcing them out the door.
The more I can empower my staff, the more they can achieve.
On making difficult decisions …
Our president is the final decider when we have to let someone go, but I’m the one who has to take it to the next level and recommend termination.
It’s a tough decision, even if it’s the right one, because you’re affecting someone’s livelihood. One of the things I say is that if I ever enjoy firing someone, then it’s time for me to find a new job.
-As told to E.C. Harrison