The Talent Strategy Behind A Gold Star Customer Experience

by Elias Rassi | Posted | Culture

The Talent Strategy Behind A Gold Star Customer Experience

Nestled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Belco Community Credit Union serves more than 65,000 members from 14 branch offices. It has two simple goals:

  1. To provide its members with a Gold Star Experience with every interaction.
  2. To be an employer of choice in the South Central Pennsylvania region.

So what’s happening behind the scenes to help Belco achieve these goals?

Blake Wise

We spoke with Blake Wise, Belco’s Senior HR and Training Specialist, to find out! Blake joined the HR team at Belco in 2008. He’s done everything from recruitment, payroll, HRIS administration, and designed benefits programs. These days, he’s focused on creating a culture of feedback and development at Belco. Let’s get into it!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Blake: Sure! I’m from Steelton, Pennsylvania and I graduated from Clarion University with a bachelor's degree in business administration and a track in entrepreneurship. I completed a human resources internship at a long term care facility in Harrisburg in my senior year of college. That experience really opened my eyes to the whole HR world and what it’s about – it’s about people.

What do you love about your job?

Blake: I love how HR supports employees and helps the business achieve its goals. I think it takes a certain skill set to be able to do that effectively. I believe that, the more honest and genuine you are, the more people will see that they’re cared for. The more they know they’re cared for, the more they can get out of what they do in their career. Personally, I get a lot of satisfaction developing relationships because it’s important for employees to know that they’re more than just a number. And it takes time to build up that trust and nurture strong relationships. In the end, it’s worth every second.

You mentioned that your focus lately has been on creating a culture of feedback and development at Belco. What have you been doing?

Blake: Our approach to performance management is built on the same principles that we provide our customers – it’s about relationships. We want to be the financial institution of choice for our community and we want to do that by showing our members great service with each and every interaction. It’s the same thing for employees. We want to be an employer of choice in the region. We want to attract great talent and we want to keep that talent, too. How do we do that? We want people to know exactly how they’re performing at work and what they can do to develop and grow in their career on an ongoing basis.

What has this focus on relationships done for employees?

Blake: It gives them an opportunity to really shine with our members. Our employees go through emotional intelligence training, which helps them more fully understand the needs of our members. The service they provide our members becomes more personal. They look at what’s best for a member depending on where they’re at in life – it could be sending their child or children to college, buying a new car, saving for retirement, budgeting for a home renovation. It’s outlined in our Gold Star Experience. If our members don’t get the best service from us, we’ll pay them. That service commitment right there is how much we believe in the value of building and maintaining great relationships.

How does Halogen help employees and supervisors in their job?

Blake: What Halogen does for employees and supervisors is it enables to people to take charge of their performance. People give and receive feedback through Halogen every day. We're also using Halogen 1:1 Exchange so employees and supervisors can document feedback, progress on goals, development discussions during dedicated monthly meetings.

Employees are encouraged to enter at least two agenda items per week they would like to talk about in their monthly one-on-one meeting. Two items a week adds up to eight items a month. Supervisors bring in six items, so now we’re up to 14 different items at least, on top of talking about recurring agenda items such as goal updates, feedback given and received, and progress on development plans. That’s a pretty good one-on-one! We're not asking people to put a to-do list in Halogen. We’re asking them to own their performance.

How do these conversations help develop employees?

Blake: Prior to their monthly one-on-one meeting, we ask employees to make an entry in Halogen that describes what they’re interested in learning or developing. Then, we ask who could support them as they take the next step in their development. For example, one of our head tellers can help with X, Y, Z because they’re really great at it. One of the great benefits of this approach is that it helps people develop solid relationships. Employees then organize a time when they can shadow their peer or have a follow up meeting, anything that will help someone learn what they want to.

What has your approach to performance management done for Belco?

Blake: We know employees want feedback on their performance and they want that one-on-one time with their manager. They want to talk about what’s going well, what isn’t going well, what they need to do to be great at their job, and what they want to do in their career or the type of training they’re interested in. That’s the key piece because everyone has unique interests and motivations, and everyone has their own development path or career interests.

Our approach to performance management has allowed us to embrace what employees want and need, and say to them, “We can give you the feedback and development you want, and we can help you grow your career and have great leaders in place to guide you along the way.”

You’ve been working in HR at Belco since 2008. What are you most proud of so far?

Blake: We run an employee engagement and job satisfaction survey each year. We set three-year goals that we just exceeded this year before our target date and I’m really proud of that accomplishment. Our employee job satisfaction, engagement, leadership effectiveness, and communication scores between employees and their immediate supervisor ranked higher than industry and the national average. I think those statistics show what we're doing with Halogen impacts engagement.

I also have big white board outside of my office that shows our completion rates for one-on-one meetings between supervisors and employees. We’re up there every month, 98 or 99 percent. We’ve made big strides so far and I think we’ll only get better moving forward.

The Gold Star Experience for employees

It’s clear that Blake is passionate about creating and maintaining strong relationships with people. What’s great about Blake’s approach is that the more personal work becomes for Belco employees, the more personal the connection extends to Belco’s members.

Belco’s Gold Star Experience is backed by a commitment to service excellence. But Belco’s approach to talent management gives its employees a gold star experience that’s backed by a genuine, honest approach to talent management focused on building great relationships between employees and supporting their ongoing growth and development.

Your turn: What are some of the ways you’re helping people be their best at work? Let us know in the comments below.

Embrace What Employees Want

Give your people the gold star treatment with our step-by-step guide to building a performance management program they will love.


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Embrace What Employees Want

Give your people the gold star treatment with our step-by-step guide to building a performance management program they will love.


Download Now


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