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Culture. Do You Feel It?

Everyone likes to say they have an amazing culture, but do you really? Do your people and members feel it when they hear your organizations name? Working at MHVFCU has taught me what this experience looks like in a leadership role where the organization gets it right.

Jonathan Cilley
2 min read
Culture. Do You Feel It?
Photo by Debashis RC Biswas / Unsplash

This week was an amazing week to work at Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union (MHVFCU), where I have the privilege of being their Chief Information Officer. Not only are we doing amazing things, but we were recognized as the best credit union in all of New York State by Forbes. I don't take this lightly, as the rankings are compiled by an independent firm using results from surveys and member satisfaction data.

Since joining Mid-Hudson Valley FCU in the late summer of 2022, it is the second time we have been included on the Forbes list of top credit unions in New York State, and it is the first time we have been ranked first among all others. To say that I feel a sense of pride in this accomplishment would be an understatement. What makes me even more proud of this achievement is that it isn't solely the work of an individual or a small group of people within the organization. The recognition is the result of over 250 employees working all year and striving to consistently deliver the best member experience we possibly can. No one person can ever hope to achieve such a recognition on their own. The only way to do so is by working as one cohesive organization focused on our mission, vision, and values.

One of my colleagues pointed out in a meeting this week that culture is what you feel when you think about an organization. It is the visceral sensation you get from the emotional response that occurs when you hear an organization's name. MHVFCU receiving this recognition is the result of our culture. More specifically, it is the result of a culture that embraces the top two guiding principles of our organization fully:

  1. Provide exceptional member experiences
  2. People are our most important asset

Your people create the experiences that others think of and feel when they hear your organizations name. Your people embody the cultural ideals of your organization that are then passed on to all of those that they meet during their lives inside and outside of work. Unless your people are experiencing a culture where they feel supported, recognized, appreciated, and nurtured then there is no way the customers will feel any of those things when they conduct business with you.

TL;DR - All of this is a rather long way to say that if you aren't sincerely focusing on the people that you lead in your organization, there is little chance they are going to give your members or customers the experience they desire.

As leaders, embody the traits you want your managers and staff to have. Lead the way that you want to be led. Treat people in a way that they want to be treated so that they feel valued and respected. Don't think you can go into this half-hearted. People will see through any insincere attempts to lead in this manner quickly and become cynical. Commit fully to this vision and your organization's culture will organically change and improve over time as your people become more engaged and trust that they are valued.

Lastly, I want to thank all of my colleagues on the MHVFCU executive team - Chris, Nicole, Megan, Steve, and Wayne - for allowing me to share this experience and allowing me to be one of the caretakers of our organizational culture. Without all of your support for the MHVFCU staff and membership, we would not be where we are today. As a relative newcomer to this team, it gives me an immense sense of pride to know I am surrounded by peers that share my values and consider our organizational culture to be as important as I do.


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