Building a Cohesion Culture Leads to a “Best Places to Work”

At South Carolina Federal Credit Union, the HR voice is strong. It has a seat at the management table right along with Finance, Retail Sales, Lending, Marketing, Operations, Audit, and Information Technology. 

Sharing the Vision

The strategies from all of our business units are reflected in the corporate business plan, which is available for our entire staff to read and adopt. The plan doesn’t exist simply for the board, senior management, and key leaders. It is for everyone because every member of our team has value and contributes to the organization’s achievements. This is one of the processes we implement in creating a Cohesion Culture, and it has been critical in our overall success. 

Our culture is not just about hitting the numbers; it begins and ends with developing our people and understanding our goals. When a Cohesion Culture is in place, individuals are better able to relate to those who are in other parts of the organization, to those who may report to them, to their colleagues, peers, supervisors, and those in the senior-most positions. Everyone is moving in the same direction. 

Cohesion Culture Defined

Cohesion Cultures are ones in which employees have a sense they belong, that they are valued, and that they commit to personal and organizational goals. Groups must have all three elements—belonging, value, and commitment—to guarantee cohesion. When organizations succeed at cohesion, overall success is a natural byproduct. Both employees and the company benefit from increased performance, which leads to engagement. Engagement leads to retention of a quality team, which is a core strength of any workplace environment. The Cohesion Culture at South Carolina Federal is highlighted in that we’ve been named a “Best Places to Work” time and time again. 

Integrating Core Values with HR Practices

Cohesion Culture is a people-centric focus that starts with core values. Once these core values are defined—with specific guiding principles that reflect the characteristics of the business—this value system must be integrated within every aspect of the key HR practices such as acquisition, compensation and benefits, well-being initiatives, performance and coaching, and development. How does management do this? 

  1. Modeling behavior consistent with a Learning Organization. These behaviors include: Generative, adaptability, experimentation, diversity, and stewardship. These behaviors create safe spaces to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from failure. They encourage exploration of fears, as well as change, and the opportunity to learn from them. The entire organization begins to move forward as a result. 
  2. Cultivating a transformational leadership mindset. If your leadership simply focuses on goals centered primarily around the concept of a concrete product, you are more than likely leaning towards a transactional mindset. A transactional mindset means that your company’s processes are only in place to solve for today and not necessarily for tomorrow. This is short-term thinking as opposed to considering the long-term health of your organization and people. If this describes your company, you should consider making a cultural adjustment to a transformational model of leadership. Transformational leadership focuses on aligning values and making changes with the future in mind. It is impossible to create an atmosphere of trust, value, and belonging without a transformational mindset in place. This mindset is essential to having a cohesive effect on increasing performance.
  3. Aspiring vision. Just as inspiring someone by focusing on the outcome is a transactional form of leadership, aspiring vision by setting in motion a path and hope toward the future is a transformational mindset. In the beginning, this was a difficult concept for our staff. We were an organization that excelled at being reactive to what the consumer needed. Staff was friendly and helpful because it impacted the present, not the future. All the attention to setting sales goals and numbers was directed at the sales culture. Performance evaluations were myopically geared to report and measure one’s ability to hit a target. Although the primary mission of South Carolina Federal is to improve the financial condition of people’s lives, we were missing the opportunity to help them in the future because we failed to help them easily identify their own needs for the future. As we began to focus on the future of our organization and aspire vision in our team, our Cohesion Culture began forming and our personal and professional growth skyrocketed. 

In the nearly 14 years since I started at South Carolina Federal Credit Union, we have stayed the course to be an “Employer of Choice.” We wanted our employees to feel special about working at the organization. Our HR strategies and practices center on becoming a “Best Places to Work.” Why? Because when people love where they work, take care of each other and have a desire to grow and learn—magic happens!

Is magic happening in your organization? What strategies are you implementing to develop your employees to reach your goals? Share your stories below!