In a world where technological advancements continue to shape and redefine the landscape of credit unions, the question of how technology can humanize culture is not just pertinent but essential. In this detailed exploration with Dr. Troy Hall, a best-selling author and expert in talent retention and cohesion culture, we delve into the ways technology can enhance cultural dynamics within credit unions, fostering a more engaged, inclusive, and productive workplace. 

Dr. Troy Hall’s journey with credit unions began through a client relationship, evolving into a passion for enhancing financial conditions through a community-focused approach. This foundation laid the groundwork for his innovative thoughts on utilizing technology not just as a transactional tool but as a transformational force to humanize workplace culture. 

The Core of Humanizing Technology in Culture

At the heart of Dr. Hall’s philosophy is the idea that technology, when strategically applied, can significantly augment the three strategic elements of cohesion within a workplace: belonging, value, and commitment. By fostering an environment where these elements thrive, credit unions can achieve unprecedented levels of employee engagement and performance. 

  • Belonging and Inclusion- Technology facilitates the creation of online communities within organizations, encouraging interaction across departments. Tools like Slack or Kudos can create dynamic, inclusive platforms for employees to connect, share, and celebrate each other’s achievements. 
  • Value through Continuous Engagement- The shift from annual performance reviews to continuous feedback models can profoundly impact the perception of meaningful work. Systems like 15Five enable ongoing dialogue between leaders and team members, ensuring that employees feel valued and understand the significance of their contributions. 
  • Commitment via Collaborative Tools- Collaboration tools (e.g., SharePoint or Google Drive) enable real-time, collective work on projects, reinforcing the commitment through shared goals and mutual trust.  

How Can Credit Unions Harness Technology’s Potential? 

Dr. Troy Hall offers insights for leaders eager to create a more cohesive and fulfilling workplace: 

  • The Intersection of Culture and Technology- Discover how credit unions can leverage technology to strengthen the cultural pillars of belonging, value, and commitment among their teams. 
  • Transformational Leadership Through Tech- Learn about the transformative role leaders play in integrating technology into cultural practices to enhance cohesion and performance. 
  • Innovative Tools and Practices- Gain insights into specific technological tools and practices that can facilitate a more engaged, inclusive, and productive workplace environment. 

This exploration merely scratches the surface of how technology can humanize culture within credit unions. We encourage you to stream the episode for a deeper dive into these transformative strategies and to consider how they can be applied within your organization to foster a culture of belonging, value, and commitment. 



Dr. Troy Hall is not affiliated with or endorsed by ACT Advisors, LLC.  

Audio Transcription (pulled from the podcast)

Doug  00:28  

Welcome back to see you on the show. Today, we’re talking to Dr. Troy Hall. Troy is the best-selling author on talent retention, an international speaker and the founder of cohesion culture. Welcome to CU On the Show, Troy. We’re glad you’re here.  

Troy Hall  00:44  

Thank you. It’s good to be here, Doug.  

Doug  00:46  

On this podcast, we are looking for bold ideas to explosively grow the credit union movement. And we often talk about the technology and the scalability that technology has. Today, we’re going to talk about how can technology humanize culture? So Troy’s gonna go into that in a second. But let’s start out finding out what I’d like to know is, how did you get started working with credit unions?  

Troy Hall  01:14  

Well, I first started, really, with credit unions as being one of my clients. So I ran a marketing and advertising agency and a credit union in Ohio was my client. So it’s really I guess, oftentimes, the question is, does credit union seek you out? Or do you seek out a credit union to decide where you want to work? I really love the connection to people, I’m always about building relationships. And I really love the fact that that’s what credit unions did. And so for four years, I maintained that client relationship, and then got an offer from a CEO to come in and to run their operations, their marketing and their lending area. And I was like, you know, I’m on the road so much with this other program, like, ooh, this could be lucrative, and we were having children at the time. And so being home for soccer games, and pageants and dance recitals, and all that was very, very attractive for that. And what we were doing for the public for the consumers was really perfect. I mean, the whole idea around credit unions is to improve the financial conditions of people’s lives. And it’s really hard not to get behind something like that, because it is so selfless. But yet, there’s so much enjoyment. There’s so much self you get from it, because it’s such a selfless cause. So it was really very attractive. And I’ve never looked back since then.  

Doug  02:39  

Well, let’s look forward. That’s what we do here. So tell us, what is the idea what we’re talking about here? How can technology humanize culture? Tell us about that.  

Troy Hall  02:50  

So a lot of the work I do is around culture, and its cohesion culture. So my PhD is in global leadership and entrepreneurship. My dissertation was in group dynamics with an emphasis on cohesion. And what I quickly learned was that the three strategic elements of cohesion when they are present within a work environment, they always produce performance. And the level of performance that is gained is achieved through employees who are engaged, who are helpful, active, vested and eager. And what I also recognized in the leadership role was that culture is held together through the actions of the leader. So that always interested me. And then I’ve seen over my 40-some year career, I’ve seen how technology has constantly changed, and I was doing some research, I had an opportunity to do a keynote for a technology group. And I decided to take a twist on it and said, I wonder what it would be like if you just use technology and allowed it to humanize culture, what would that be like? And what I quickly recognized is that oftentimes we use technology as a transaction solution. And my work in leadership is around transformation. So I said, Oh, well, what if I take technology and apply from a transformational perspective? What would that look like? So then I built this whole conversation around, can technology humanize culture? So some of the background and why that’s important is culture isn’t going anywhere. Technology isn’t going anywhere. If you think of Peter Drucker’s comment that says that culture eats strategy for breakfast. So my thought was well make culture a strategy, and you won’t have to worry about when it’s eating or when it’s eating. So that was that’s a message that I deliver. But then I took that further and said, but Okay, so let’s think of this differently than the way we do. Oftentimes, the ideas and solutions we have means we have to look at things from a different perspective. And that’s really what I’m challenging people to do. And I don’t have all the answers, but I definitely know I’ve got a question that can stimulate some thoughts. And what I do know around what’s happening currently today in technology is this, research says that we will not see 100 years of advancement in the 21st century, I heard read that I was like, Oh, what do you mean, what do you mean? The answer is we will see more than 20,000 years of advancement in the 21st century. That’s the exponential growth of technology. We have 1.35 million technology startups that were registered as of December 31, 2023. We know that organizations, HR professionals, 20% of HR professionals are right now planning to use some form of technology or AI to streamline their work. We know that 75% of organizations do not have any plans for what they’re doing for AI, the generative AI concept and model. But we know that the technology will be there. There are 463 exabytes of information that’s available to download to stream to have immediate access. And just for a little fun, I looked up exabytes, because I’m like, I’m always interested, like we come up with these new words, where is it? And I found out that it was a quintillion. Now, when I first read that, I was kind of looking at it, and I kind of misread the word as I was looking at I thought it was a cotillion. And I’m thinking like, Oh, that would be a party here in the south. But it wasn’t that it’s really, quintillion, which is a lot of information that’s available to you. So that set the course for what we were doing.  

Doug  06:34  

I want to back up a second because I want to make sure I understand these words. So how can technology, which is this accelerator of everything, humanize culture? What does that mean? What does humanizing culture mean?  

Troy Hall  06:51  

So, the personal interactions that we have are never going to go away. And so, the human aspect of culture is our interactions. We also know that we have remote work, regardless of whether you’re an institution that has your traditional model for in office, in person work, we know the influence of remote work. So, I want to make sure for anyone listening, I’m not a proponent, one way or the other, I think it’s up to the company, they have to make the decisions. But what I do know is that the companies are creating these hybrid environments. So, they’ve already recognized remote work. And they’re saying, yes, it’s still important, but we’re going to just make it a hybrid. So even organizations, and one that I know of, you know, quite intimately has maybe 700 employees, and they are multiple locations throughout a given geographic area. And so, even in that sort of concept, even if we just take that there’s no everybody in under the same roof. But when you look at culture, culture is available to everyone, whether they’re under the same roof or not, it’s a matter of how you replicate that into the microcosms of all the little spaces where you happen to be. And so, if you’re in office locations, so I have another client that is in the US that operates in 48 states, so they don’t have everybody under the same roof either. So then the question becomes is how do they make sure a culture is happening? So how do they try to augment the humanizing aspects of culture? So then I boiled that down and said, Okay, well, what’s the fundamentals of culture? Fundamentals of culture are stories, rituals, traditions, its core values. It’s how the individuals are going to interact. And then I was like, Oh, wow, the three strategic elements of cohesion really fit nicely as a foundation because part of what I do is coach leaders to retain talent in their organizations by helping them infuse cohesion into their culture. So I’m not changing their culture. I’m only enhancing it I’m infusing this cohesive element into the culture. And the three strategic elements of cohesion are belonging, value, and commitment. And in belonging, it has to be full circle into inclusion. For value, it’s not just the respect you have and the way you treat people, but it’s the meaningful work that I have, does my work have purpose? Does it have value? And then lastly, commitment is my opportunity to work on shared mutual activities, desired outcomes, whether they’re individual or corporately. And I do that through collaboration.   

Doug  09:29  

Where does the technology come into all this good cultural material?  

Troy Hall  09:34  

What a great leading question, because here we are. So I had to set the stage, because now you can begin to look at and say, all right, so what do I do in the area of belonging? I know what I do in the area of what I have in person, but how do I handle it when I have this remote option? Or how do I even augment it for my in person experiences. And so what I recognize is that for belonging and inclusion, it requires a community. So you use the technology to make sure you’re creating an online community that you have within the organization. And that online community has to be more than just a single one sided or a one way. So some folks might say, well, we have a recognition in our organization, and we use email. And I’m like, well, that’s nice, at least you have something. But email is not dynamic. It’s not you can’t talk back and forth very quickly. But if you have a community chat, a community, online presence within your organization, you can chat and talk about things, you can also make sure that these conversations are categorized, and you can go back and reference them. Or you can play into the conversations because you open a channel for a conversation. And those channels can stay open, and you can go back to them. So that is a way to do it. You also encourage individuals to provide recognition and feedback to individuals from different departments. So you’re actually asking the entire organization to get involved in the community, and not just directing it from one particular level within the company, which typically is, hey, we provide recognition from the top down. But what if we were providing recognition from the bottom up, top down, side to side, that is creating an interactive community within the organization. So I suggest, hey, let’s take a look at what that would look like. And I don’t know what the right solution is. So I know a number of technology solutions that can do that. But I don’t want to recommend, because I don’t want people thinking I’m recommending that one. I want individuals to understand the concept, and then try to figure out what they want, that will help do that. I learned very early on in my career working with I.T. that when I went to I.T. and said, oh, I want you to implement this solution, because I’ve already done all the research. And this is what I want. I have cut off a good portion of people who have the skills, the knowledge and the expertise to help me figure out, I have to do a better job of saying this is what I want for my software, this is what I want for my interaction. Now you help me find the solution that will work. So part of this is having individuals within the HR and the leadership realm, say I want a community involved technology that will allow my employees to feel this great sense of belonging and inclusion, where questions can be asked, and people can give their insight into it. That’s just the first phase. So let me pause there and see what you want to follow up on. Because then we’ll talk about the other two elements.   

Doug  12:39  

Yeah, so I what I’m hearing is the recognition from all directions sounds like a culture of gratitude is kind of what I would spin it as. And the idea is that using technology to foster this virtuous cycle of gratitude complements across the organization. I think that’s what I’m hearing. So, in a credit union, the systems that exist in are built around serving the member, right. And this is serving the employees. So I know you’re not recommending anything, but what’s, what’s an example of something that you’ve seen that does this, what’s a system that does this kind of thing.  

Troy Hall  13:17  

So, just to give you a couple of examples, there’s a company out of Canada that offers kudos, which is a recognition program, a gentleman named Tom Short, I know to do that, and then I am involved in a local accountability program called the Champion Tribe, and we use Slack as an option. I’m also part of the Mission Matters community and for a period of time we were using a LinkedIn solution, to create some sort of community, and just really, what you want to do is just research out there. So I’ve  tried to give you at least three suggestions of things to look at. But there’s, there’s more that you can look at that will help you in what you need to do.  

Doug  14:00  

The actualizing of this is maybe it’s combination of it’s coming from the leadership of the organization, or suggesting that this is something that needs to be pursued. And then the tech folks are selecting the how. Who’s actually sort of monitoring this and fostering conversations? Where does that happen in an organization?   

Troy Hall  14:23  

Well, that’s where it’s entirely up to the organization to decide. So they can have it rest wherever they might have corporate communications, if they have corporate communications and marketing, maybe marketing might be the opportunity to do that. Or it could be an HR function, or it could be part of retail, since retail will be the largest users within most credit unions because of the branch network. And those individuals who are serving the member front line. So you can have a lot of application there. But regardless, just like any other program that we put in, it requires the leadership of the organization to make it happen. So it’s not just oh, something I’m putting in for the for the employees. Now, isn’t this a nice little cool thing, and then I never use it. So, you have to use it. And then part of what we don’t have time to discuss today is more of what I call my culture infusion framework, and how you would then take all of these things and infuse them into the organization. So it’s not just about infusing cohesion into the culture. But it’s anything that you want to infuse into the culture of the organization, I have a four step process that I can walk people through that we can do that, that may be a time that you may want to spend in another, another call with me. But let’s talk about value. And let me give you some examples of that. Would it be okay to do that? Okay, so if I looked at value, and remember, part of that is not only just respecting people, because we expect that, we want good treatment of individuals. But in cohesion values, specifically works around meaningful work, that the individual understands that they’re providing something of value. It’s the emotional connection that we make. And oftentimes, that emotional connection we make with the things we do shows up as the term passion. So in looking at this, I thought of, well, what sort of activity would help me define meaningful work. And what I looked into is that many times organizations only provide that follow up for meaningful work, in a couple of ways. One, they might do it when things aren’t going well. So they’re gonna tell you how meaningful your work is, but then I also looked at the opportunity of saying, well, what if we were tweaking in coaching. Because I do a lot of coaching. And I think that’s really important. So then it’s like changing the mindset of just doing an annual performance evaluation, to doing a continuous performance evaluation. And doing a continuous performance evaluation allows for the interaction between the supervisor and the employee to be intimate and to be ongoing. And that, to me is a wonderful way that technology can humanize that sort of cultural interaction, because it allows for those conversations, whether you’re doing the conversations over a digital platform, where you’re doing it with a visual on a screen, or whether you’re doing it through a conference call on a phone, then that feedback mechanism is what’s helping keep things moving. And the individual coach, the leader can provide continuous feedback through this mechanism without having to wait till they physically see the person. In my concept or my little thought that sort of as a way to go, oh, that sort of helps humanize it. It doesn’t replace the human. We’re not trying to replace the human. Yeah, we’re finding ways to enhance it. So for the third part, it’s just really about the commitment. It’s about collaboration. So, it’s about operating a collaborative tool. Now to have collaboration within this area of commitment. Two things have to happen. One, individuals who are working together, have to agree they need each other. And the second thing is they have to agree that they will trust that each other will do their jobs. And so a piece of technology that can work is using a tool that allows individuals to collaborate on a document at the same time where each of them are working. Oftentimes, we see that happening through, you know, through the technology through the Google Drive’s through the Google network through a company called SharePoint. So again, there’s a couple of examples. I’m not really concerned about the company, but it’s, will you give me the opportunity to have that shared interaction back and forth, to be able to share files in a central space where I don’t have to have them proprietarily held for the individual who started the file or who created the file, then you can put it into the central space, so individuals can review it, and use it and access it and contribute to it. That is what I was speaking about, when I mentioned, humanizing technology for commitment.  

Doug  19:02  

To sort of step back to the value, the idea that the continual discussions with the leader and the team are captured in some kind of a technology system, and then, you know, continually guided in the direction of the strategic objectives of the organization. Where does that happen? What are some examples of where that that is kept?  

Troy Hall  19:28  

Meaning what software company you might use?  

Doug  19:31  

Yeah, just examples of software that does this kind of thing. So our listeners might already have that, and not have thought about using it in this way? Or might, you know, need a shortlist to start looking for.   

Troy Hall  19:43  

So, just to make sure you know, I’m not getting any kickbacks from any of these companies that I’m recommending. These are just things that I found through my research. But a company that I think does a really good job is 15 Five, does a continuous performance feedback. And again, the culture has to be ready for this, because really, it scares people, because we’re so accustomed to the past, we’re so accustomed to, oh, my gosh, we’ve done an annual review, well, how will we provide a merit  increase to individuals, if we don’t do an annual review. So there are some solutions to it, you can do things, which is called an annual wrap up that you do, but your process of the communication is occurring along the course of the year, the software and the system can also bring information forward from one month to the next. You know how challenging and difficult it is to try to open up files and find things. But imagine if you could access an individual on an app, whether on your desktop or on your handheld device, and you can see that person and the conversations and communications that you are having that are unresolved can be rolled up from one communication point to the next, whether you do that on a weekly, monthly, bi weekly basis, daily basis, whatever it happens to be, all that information can be rolling up. And at the same time, not only is the supervisor seeing what’s happening, but the employee can also provide progress. And they can show the progress that they’re making, which contributes very much to their mindset of having meaningful work. My boss is now seeing the progress that I’m making on these various milestones that we have agreed to, that would be important to work on. So that’s one of the ways that it can be used. And that’s why I felt it was important to have that continuous feedback, because that’s really what we see in organizations today, from a culture standpoint. It’s the success of the coaching that really makes or breaks how individuals will perform. Coaching is the sustainability factor. So when I do work with organizations, and I talk to them through the Cohesion Culture Program, it’s really looking at what level of coaching do you have for your team. And it’s not just for the executive individuals within the company. It is also for your middle management for your supervisors, your team leads, I even have some organizations that have identified their up-and-coming emerging leaders and I coach them as well. So, we add that into the process and then figuring out are there ways to create technology for coaching? I’m actually exploring that today. I’ve got some things in the works, which I cannot speak about, because they will be proprietary. But I am really investigating how do you humanize coaching with technology?  

Doug  22:23  

I want to kind of try to summarize, I’m missing one. So, for the key components to culture I wrote down as you were talking where belonging value and commitment and the you gave a couple of examples, but the one I’m most familiar with is LinkedIn it’s sort of using that technology to create a sort of LinkedIn style environment that I would think everyone on this podcast is familiar with, is an idea for creating the belonging portion of the culture. And for the value portion, which is related to performance reviews, there’s a tool called 15 Five, that create takes the performance review from a once a year system to a continual system and sort of keeps all the previous comments together for you, right, or organizes them and the team is able to look at those as a whole. And the last one was commitment. I didn’t capture a technology solution that goes with that was there a particular one?  

Troy Hall  23:21  

There was, but before I do that, I want to go back and say that for belonging, my ultimate recommendation would not be LinkedIn, even though we might be familiar with it, it’s too clunky, what I would if I were thinking about it, I would look at Slack as an option, which would definitely do that, or I would look at the Kudos system would be my two, if I were looking for thoughts that would come to mind immediately, since you were giving the individuals a very pinpointed way to maybe address something and do some, at least some minimal research, they could do that. And then the third under commitment was SharePoint, finding a tool that allows you to collaborate together on a document or to do something through the Google space. Since we know that we can do through Google Drive, we can set up all kinds of files where individuals can all be sharing and using those at the same time, although I will say that sometimes within the credit union movement, because our information is so important to protect for our members, we can’t access some of those systems outside, but SharePoint can be brought inside the company, and can be used inside the software inside of what you’re doing inside the company, where Google will take you to the outside. And some of that is restricted for maybe  most of the listeners you have here. I have challenges and difficulties through my CUSO actually using any of the services outside of the credit union. And I’m happy for that, by the way, there’s no complaint on my part for it. Yes, it would be really nice if I could access my social media and things right directly through my work computer. But I’m happy to know that we are protecting member data all the time, because it is, you know, we never want put ourselves in a position where we make one advancement, and then we take two steps back somewhere else.  

Doug  25:10  

When I listen to what you’re talking about, it seems like strategy is where all this emanates from,as an organization, you’ve decided to purposely create your culture and to seek to create a cohesive culture. And then you’re using the tools of technology to reinforce the objectives that you set strategically. Is that how it usually happens?  

Troy Hall  25:34  

I believe that is a very good structure. Does it always happen that way? No. And that’s why people call on me and have me come in and help them.  

Doug  25:43  

What if you say, you know what, I gotta build branches, I’ve got to figure out which fintechs I want to partner with? I’d like to buy a bank. I don’t have time for this. What happens if you don’t pay attention to culture in this way?  

Troy Hall  25:58  

Well, I would simply go back to things like the Model T. And for individuals who said, I still want my horse. I love my horse. I like my horse and buggy. And I’m going to keep it.   

Doug  26:12  

I don’t think anyone ever said that.  

Troy Hall  26:15  

I don’t know. But I would say, I believe so. Because if you think about the stagecoach, I believe Pullman was another example. There are several examples in history where individuals dug in their heels for technology, and they didn’t embrace it. They didn’t figure out what to do. And in the very beginning of this, if I didn’t set it up for you correctly, let me just remind those folks who are listening, you will not see 100 years of technology advancement in the 21st century, we are experiencing 20,000 years of growth of technology. And if we just go back to some simple things, if I just think back to when I first started on technology, my technology first introduction to technology was a wall phone in the kitchen of our house. That was a six-party line. Now, technology has definitely advanced since then, and imagine what It would be like, if I didn’t move forward, what would my life be like today, if I didn’t embrace the technology of the phone, which was only supposed to be to communicate back and forth, and now it’s a mini-computer. And I have access to so many things that I wouldn’t have had access to. I was just on a call talking with individuals about a learning platform that we are working on. And it’s virtual. It’s a virtual learning platform. And it’s more for manufacturing. And it has to do with helping them see parts and different pieces that these individuals will have to understand how to move or maneuver to put it together. And then part of that discussion also led to say, oh, what would it look like? Could we have a virtual training program for leadership development, and that was something that I had never thought of, until I was, you know, working with them on that solution that they needed for their training curriculum within and they needed an augmented environment, they needed something that was virtual. And imagine what it’d be like if we ignored that. So I think what I say is, we have to prepare our minds. So part of this messaging that I delivered was our mindset change. We have to be teachable, we have to think about what the application is. And for leaders in an organization, we have to go beyond our own personal biases. And we have to say what’s right for our enterprise, what’s right for everyone what’s right for more people to same thing for membership, when we make our decisions for our members, we make our decisions for the membership as a whole, we don’t make it just for one person, we try to customize as much as we can for one person. But if that one person that we customized for sacrifices many other people, we may have to think differently about the solution that we implement. So I suggest that we be open and see what more can happen. The way we think also has to include both single loop and double loop thinking. Single loop thinking is when I make a solution for something to solve a problem for today. And I don’t think about it for tomorrow. Double Loop says I not only think about it today, but I think about it tomorrow. And I’m not discounting the fact that there are some immediate solutions that are single loop that I put in today. But I have my eye on tomorrow and I come back to it so that I can get the double loop and make sure that what I’m resolving is not only good for today, but it’s good for tomorrow, I have to think that way. I have to open my mind to be teachable to accept new information, I have to be able to think it from people who don’t look, think or act like me. And there’s a whole lot of that that I found for myself that will be successful. And I hope that individuals who are listening will embody some of those spirits as they start thinking of how technology can humanize culture.  

Doug  29:57  

Yeah, it’s a big subject. There’s a lot there. And we thank you for your ideas on how technology can humanize culture and the specific you know, suggestions as far as technology that you’ve seen work are just ideas to get you thinking ideas to get you started. So with that, thank you Dr. Troy Hall for your work in the credit union movement for  your ideas that you shared with us today. We wish you much success and we’ll have your information linked in the notes to the podcast.  

Troy Hall  30:26  

I appreciate it. Doug, thank you so much. And just remember you don’t have to know everything. You just need to be teachable.  

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