Internal Culture On Fire - A Series

Edgar Schein, a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management states: “The only thing of real importance that leaders do is create and manage culture.” Credit Union leaders like Matt Monge of Fort Campbell Federal Credit Union  and Thad Angelle of MCT Federal Credit Union  seem to both agree with Professor Schein.

Matt feels so strongly about credit union internal culture, he created The Mojo Company, a consulting firm that deals solely with internal culture. In an article on Mark Arnold's blog, Matt states: "While it’s easy to throw out the words “culture change,” it is in fact much more difficult to actually do it."

Well, we found a credit union CEO that is putting his words into action and "actually doing it."

Thad Angelle is a CEO with great conviction about the impact of internal culture on his credit union…  which is why he is the highlight of the next several blogs you will see from us. You see, Thad is different. He is putting his money where his mouth is and we like that. Over the next couple of weeks, you’ll see us talking a lot about Thad. And you’ll see why – he’s a pretty cool guy with a lot of passion for his credit union. Passion he has put to action.


He’s a leader who’s always had a big smile and a bit of swagger. But these days he’s more eager to boast his newly gained appreciation for listening first, talking later and giving credit to his team before all else. Thad didn’t attend MIT, but he’s certainly validating Professor Shein’s position. Better yet, he’s putting this philosophy into practice.

Learn why next week…. 

Pop Quiz



People can usually tell whether you are putting on an act or being genuine. And nobody is better at being you than… well, you! Find what makes your credit union unique, cultivate it, and celebrate it. Help your employees understand this unique story and make it their own.


Good internal communication is crucial to the success of your internal culture. It’s the difference between functioning like a herd of cats versus a school of fish. When your employees understand and believe in the culture, their customer service will make sure your members understand and believe too.


Cultures that recognize the contributions of employees will be stronger, truer, and longer-lasting than cultures where behavior is forced by top-down decrees. If leaders and employees don’t have a strong sense of team, it can undermine your culture very quickly. Employees who feel the love are more likely to inspire similar feelings among your members.


Remember that actions speak louder than words. Every interaction (no matter how small) is an opportunity to affirm your brand in the eyes of your employees and members. Your brand is a promise you make to your members; your culture is how your employee team lives, breathes, and delivers on that promise.


Your culture is your credit union’s personality, not its wardrobe. A strong culture endures over time, responding to changes in environment with the steadiness of self-awareness. Evolution is a natural and healthy trait of organizational culture; chasing fads is not. Customers seek long-term relationships with brands they know they can trust throughout the test of time.

Your Internal Culture Impacts Your.... (Fill In The Blank...)

Your Internal Culture Impacts Your....


Individual and collective employee performance can be affected either positively or negatively by the corporate culture you embrace. (, “Corporate Culture Affect Employees”) 
The cost of losing an employee is about 38% of the departing employee’s annual wage. (John Dooney, manager of strategic research at the society for Human Resource Management) 


Industry has discovered the value of loyal customers: they buy more, buy more often, are cheaper to serve, have higher retention rates, and are more profitable than newly acquired customers. (Aruthur Middleton Hughes, “How Customer Service Builds Loyalty and Profits”)

The cost of acquiring new customers is five times the cost of servicing established ones. (referencing analysis by Reichheld, The Gallup Management Journal, “The Constant Customer”) 

When a brand inspires both rational loyalty and emotional attachment, customers will continually reward it with their business. (The Gallup Management Journal, “The Constant Customer”)


Sustained success has to do with managing culture. Organizations change without an awareness of what drives the organization’s culture may be the reason close to 90% of all projects fail. (Toby Elwin, “The Cost of Culture, a 50% turnover of the Fortune 500”)

Examples from an 11 year Harvard Business School study show a variety of areas in which companies with the “right” culture outperformed their counterparts: revenues were 4.1 times higher, stock price was 12.2 times higher and return on investment was 15 times higher. (, “The Impact of Corporate Culture on Economic Performance”)

According to a study by the Hay Group, failure to consider cultural integration is a common and often disastrous mistake made by merging firms. (Jesse James, “The Importance of Corporate Culture to Merger Success”)

Are YOU Connected?

 Gallup has a method of assessing customer loyalty for a variety of industries based on factors that go beyond traditional satisfaction. They ask questions about things like whether or not the brand treats you fairly, delivers on its promise, can be trusted, treats you with a sense of respect, makes you proud; whether you could even imagine a world without the brand. These questions aren’t just about whether or not a customer’s needs are being met; these questions are about connection and passion.

When a member connects with your credit union’s culture, they are more likely to grow into a true loyalist. 

When a member experiences a disconnect with your culture, there’s often an equally high level of negative passion. Who’s usually the make-or-break factor here? You got it: your staff. Whether or not you as a leader have taken the time to understand and shape it, your internal culture is impacting your credit union’s success right now- both internally and externally.

(source for all statistics: CUNA’s 2010 Credit Union Member Satisfaction, Growth and Loyalty report)

Culture Is Everything

“ The thing that I have learned at IBM is that culture is everything.”   - Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. former CEO IBM

Internal culture encompasses the personality of your credit union – what you collectively value, how you do things, your commonly held beliefs and expectations. It manifests itself everywhere: in how your employees treat one another, the care they take in performing their jobs, and the way they treat your members.

 An organization’s senior leadership is directly responsible for defining its culture and typically has a significant influence on the organization's culture- but remember that culture also reflects the collective mindset of employees. When your employees understand and embrace your organization’s culture, it translates into a better and more consistent member experience. Consistently good experiences build trust and loyalty, which in turn build business.