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What I learned (or didn't learn) my first year as a CEO ? Post 3 of 3


By: Jim Struble

Have you ever not taken your own advice? I mean, REALLY, not taken your own advice? You know you should do something, acknowledge the logic behind it, pat yourself on the back for understanding it, give that advice to others –then turn around and do something completely different instead? That was me setting 2019 goals with the team in my first year as CEO of Electro Savings.

I could have sworn I was more intelligent than that–I know all about goal setting! I’ve learned from the best, coached others, and made great strides in my career by setting SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Coming into a new organization, besides defining the culture, setting goals is one of the more important things a new CEO can do. It gives the organization direction, helps set the tone and allows for the feeling of success. Not much feels better than “Hitting our goals!”

Yet, there I was at the end of 2018 throwing out HUGE goals for our organization for 2019. Goals that violated the “SMART” method due to them maybe not being “Attainable.”

Here are some examples of the crazy big goals:

  • Go from negative member growth over the last few years to double what the industry sees for credit unions our size. Make 2019 one of our best member growth years ever.
  • Cut down on staff frustrations by automating hundreds of hours of work done manually in 2018.
  • Launch new products that are the best in the area and make them our fastest growing product lines in just one year.
  • Be recognized nationally for both our internal organizational culture and for the financial education we offer to members and partners.
  • Be recognized as one of the best places to work in Saint Louis.
  • And more!

Looking back, it was risky. I had gotten to know everyone at Electro and we were all willing and wanting to be the best, so it seemed like a good risk to take. Luckily, Electro has a work-family as excited for change as I am and a Board that is willing to take calculated risks. However, there were certainly some eyebrows raised, and fingers crossed by everyone going into 2019.

Here’s how it’s going so far after seven completed months of 2019:

  • We aren’t growing at a rate double the industry average for our size… we’re actually growing six-fold!
  • We didn’t automate hundreds of hours–the automation will have to be measured in thousands!
  • We’ve already surpassed the goals set for the entire year for our new rewards checking account and our Save to Win Certificate!
  • We received multiple national awards in 2019 already –one for our culture and one for financial education to our communities.
  • We haven’t been recognized as one of the best places to work in St. Louis yet, but I can promise you, I won’t rest until we earn that title.

How on earth are we accomplishing such crazy results? It’s the people at Electro. Our staff is simply amazing!

  • You’d think we have an IT team of 20–we have three. On a side note they’re as hilarious as they are talented and hard working.
  • I imagine you are picturing a work-group dedicated to projects? Not here! Our team takes on their daily roles, and then dives into project work with diligence and care to make it all work best for our members in the end. Staff who open your loans and call you about your checking account are the same who’re brainstorming how to make it take half the time.
  • Well, then I’m sure you’re thinking we have a marketing and community team that spans across an entire floor of some fancy corporate office? Wrong again! We only have a marketing team of two and one Community Development Manager! No matter the role at Electro, our staff can be part of a community team that volunteers time   educating our communities and championing Electro’s products and services.

Be amazed! I am too. Every day working with the team here I am amazed at their talent, energy, and care towards our members and our organization. I am lucky to be here.

FYI: I’m not planning on taking my own advice in 2020 either. <*sigh>