Create a Board Succession Plan: Seven Steps

Doing so is in members’ best interests and helps fulfill directors’ fiduciary duties.

June 22, 2011

Creating a plan to find potential board members with the competencies your board needs is extremely important to your credit union’s future.

This is true not only because NCUA rules require federal credit union board members to have specific knowledge and competencies, but also because the road to post-recession success for many credit unions will be long.

This won’t be easy, but a board succession plan can guide you. And even with these guidelines, your greatest obstacle could be to convince some directors that such a plan is necessary at all.

If some board members find this threatening, explain that a succession plan is designed to find essential competencies for future directors, not weed out current directors.

Explain that it’s clearly in members’ best interests and, ultimately, helps fulfill current directors’ fiduciary duties.

These seven steps, as reported in CUNA’s 2011-2012 Credit Union Environmental Scan Report, can help your board create a board succession plan:

1. Assess your CU’s needs

This includes reviewing your mission, vision, and values along with your strategic plans and priorities.

Then identify the critical issues and risks you’ll face in the next three to five years.

2. List required attributes

List the ideal attributes your board should embody, including experience, knowledge, functional skills, competencies, and demographic representation.

3. Assess current board members

Using the list of attributes, assess current board members, rating the prevalence of each attribute from the list.

4. Provide opportunities for development

From the assessment, determine where gaps are prevalent and provide educational opportunities to one or more board members.

5. Develop a process to anticipate voluntary board member departures

This could come in the form of term limits or a more informal process of having directors inform the board of anticipated departure dates.

6. Build a list of potential board members and start to orient them to the CU

Ask all board members and senior executives for names of potential directors.

Create opportunities for orientation to the board and credit union.

And create nonvoting “associate director” or “board intern” positions or find opportunities for these prospects to serve on committees.

7. Develop a formal board member succession policy

A formal policy will help hold the board accountable for the creation and maintenance of the plan.

YVONNE EVERS is owner of YME Coaching & Consulting LLC, Madison, Wis. Contact her at 608-848-2823.