Old dog, new tricks

Originally posted on CUinsight

A few months ago, it hit me that compared to my co-workers, I was now one of the “old dogs” in the office.  That was quite a sobering moment.  It seems that just a couple of years ago I was the new kid on the block.

Looking back over my career, I can say that I’ve learned a lot.  Working in IT, it’s either stay current or stay irrelevant.  Over the years I progressed from learning programming on “green screens” in college to developing HTML web apps and mobile applications.

I’ve also had to expand my knowledge from knowing only Windows programming to becoming a full-stack developer (web servers, database admin, back-end programming, front-end development.) One could say that I’ve had to learn a lot of new tricks to stay relevant and more efficient at my job.

As you reflect upon your career development, I’m sure you see areas that you’ve grown in.  Unfortunately, some of you may have stopped growing years ago.

If your favorite phrase is “but that’s how we’ve always done it”, welcome to the stunted growth group.  Years ago, a co-worker and I were discussing someone’s level of work experience.  At one point I asked, “do they have ten years of experience, or one year of experience ten times?”

There is a difference.  I’m sure you know someone that has been in the same position for ten or more years, doing the exact same thing they were originally were trained for.

Think about that a moment.  Ten years ago, we didn’t have smart phones or tablets.  The cloud?  That was just water vapor that floated in the sky.  Unless it was near the ground and we called it fog.  No Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube or Netflix.

Think about how all these new technologies have been incorporated into your daily life.  Information is easier and quicker to access.  In a lot of ways, things in your life are more automated, if you’ve embraced the tools that are available.

So the question I have for you is, why are some of you still performing the exact same processes you’ve had for ten or more years?  For example, Carol in loan processing who:

1. Downloads a report from your loan origination system with all the collateral violations

2. Opens an Access database to re-enter the alerts so that they can be tracked

3. Exports member addresses and active collateral violation information to Excel

4. Opens Word to perform a mail merge to generate letters to be sent to members

Depending on the number of violations, there could be a lot of Carols.  If you look around your credit union, you may see more examples.  In some cases, new software could help.  In others, a little training in Excel could make things more efficient.  But you have to be willing to listen to new ideas and learn new things.

Every few years, you should be asking yourself if there is a better way to do your job or make a process easier for your members.  I’ve been the member on the other end of the phone that groans when a credit unioner tells me they can’t perform some function because of their current process.

Some times, it could be something as simple as changing that job application on your website from a form that needs to be printed and handwritten to a fillable PDF.

I may be becoming the old dog, but I’m willing to learn some new tricks.  How about you?

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