Brand. Values. Culture. We throw these words around quite a bit in corporate America, often with minimal regard for what they actually mean or the impact they have. Sometimes we even hang them on the wall as proof that we’re important enough to have them.

None of that matters if you don’t practice what you preach (or prominently display). Do your employees even know what your bank or credit union values? Perhaps the better question is do the behaviors within your bank or credit union reflect what you say your culture is?

Every credit union, every bank, every business has an internal culture whether they recognize it or not. The way management treats employees is part of your culture. The way employees treat each other is part of your culture. The way your bank or credit union makes your employees feel when they are at work is a big part of your culture.

Why does any of this matter? Because your corporate values and your internal culture impact your brand strength. If your internal culture is weak or inconsistent, your brand will be, too.

Culture Gaps

When you market your bank or credit union one way but deliver a completely different level of service or experience, that is called a brand gap. When you define your corporate values and culture one way but employee behavior and performance contradicts it, we call that a culture gap.

For example, the poster hanging in your branch claims respect is one of your values, but managers frequently belittle their subordinates and employees thrive on disrespecting each other. That’s a culture gap. Or, your corporate values claim to respect and embrace all ideas, but employees are ridiculed or turned away when they attempt to share. That is a culture gap. You have to close those gaps to improve your culture and your brand, and it has to start at the top. Executives and managers must emulate your bank or credit union’s values in everything they do. If they act one way and expect their employees to act a different way, you will never close those gaps.

Feelings

When you ask someone if they like their job, the answer almost always relates to how the company makes them feel or how their supervisors treat them. If you treat your employees like they matter, it makes them feel good. A simple e-mail that says, “Thank you for taking care of (insert situation). You really saved the day,” is an easy way to make someone feel good about themselves and their job. Letting an employee take an extra twenty minutes at lunch one day so they can eat with their kid at school indicates you value what’s important to them. When you consistently make your employees feel like they matter, they willingly do more for you.

If your bank or credit union creates great employee experiences, your employees will create great consumer experiences. That is how your culture and your brand thrive.