What do directors believe are the keys to building an effective board?
Jake Jensen (above, left), board member at $1.2 billion asset Advantis Credit Union in Milwaukie, Ore., said he asks himself continually, “What can I do to recruit a volunteer today?”
He pointed out that it’s an easy strategy to implement, and he sets recruitment goals for himself between board meetings. Get comfortable with rejection, too. “Good board members and candidates are going to be busy people,” he said. “So be sure you listen to their objections before you address them. Expect that your request might even be intimidating at first to some people.”
Other strategies Jensen suggested:
Develop board competencies
The board members of $1.2 billion asset Elevations Credit Union, Boulder, Colo., operates through a board portal, where they can discuss ongoing issues with each other and leadership throughout the month, said Katie Larson, board chair. This allows the board to be “as strategic as possible during the monthly board meeting.”
General competencies the board seeks include possessing personal integrity, interpersonal skills, active learning skills, technological literacy; and embracing the volunteer commitment and credit union philosophy.
Other points Larson emphasized:
“We believe in a thorough board orientation, which is at least a day-long event,” Larson said, and “embracing a BHAG [big, hairy, audacious goal] is part of the orientation.”
In 2014, Elevations received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for its business excellence, which was a BHAG for the board and credit union team.
“Keep a pulse on the members and be member-centric. If you aren’t, how can you be an effective board member?”
That’s how Anthony Lawrence, supervisory committee member of $283 million asset SC Telco Credit Union in Greenville, S.C., described his board’s philosophy.
Volunteers must share an “engagement with membership”—or nonmembers—story at board meetings. The thinking is that you must pass on the spirit from existing members to new members, he says.
“Our dashboard is green,” he said. Members in their 30s and 40s are busy, but also hungry. “I’ve lived this. We’re eager to learn—you want busy people because they’re accustomed to time management skills.”
Lawrence travels two hours each way to carry out his committee and board responsibilities. Why? He offered a full list of reasons: