But who enforces these obligations? Member-owners? Through elections? Seriously? The credit union that has real competition for board seats is a rare bird, indeed. Ensuring the performance of board members is the responsibility of other board members. It is a tough job, but there’s no one else to do it.
This may mean difficult conversations, hurt feelings, even broken friendships among long-term board members. There are no easy answers, but ducking the issue only makes things worse. The first commitment every board member needs to make is to do the job; the second commitment is not to tolerate a colleague who doesn’t share that first commitment.
Preparing For The Future
This brings us, rather naturally, to the challenge of managing board succession. It’s not easy to craft a graceful exit for board members who have stayed past their expiration date. Trips to the GAC and other conferences, the conviviality of belonging, and even plain old inertia can make it awkward if not nigh on to impossible to retire board members who are no longer willing or sometimes even able to deliver the service their role requires. But it must be done.
New board members should bring outside points of view, fresh energy, and much-needed expertise, whether you’re talking about the local market, SEGs, technology, or other key success factors. But for most credit unions, it’s a real challenge to find and recruit people with the right skillset, the right attitudes, and sufficient time to be good board members. It’s also hard to make those folks a compelling offer once you find them.
People worth having won’t commit if there isn’t an actual board seat waiting at the end of the tunnel. They need training and preparation, but they also need a clear path and timeline. Being an associate board member or committee member while waiting for someone to throw in the towel — or even to die — isn’t most people’s idea of fulfilling community service.
There’s no magic bullet here. The personal politics involved can be complex and powerful, especially in cases where this board responsibility has been ignored for a while. Nonetheless, board members owe this to membership – the people who put them in those seats and are counting on them to ensure their cooperative is and continues to be safe, sound and a worthy, trusted financial partner.
If the first job of a credit union board of directors is self-governance, the most important one is setting strategic direction. We will address those challenges in Part II.
Click Here To Read Part 2
Are You Ready For Strategic Planning?
The most effective planning sessions require prep work, sharp focus, and a true understanding of your credit union’s place in the market.
Use this set of essential performance ratios for strategic planning to make the most of your team’s time together.