Many credit unions have stayed with either all virtual meetings or returned to all in-person meetings, granting exceptions when requested, says Jeff Rendel, president of Rising Above Enterprises.
Regardless, “what’s most important is communication and a sense of determining comfort levels from members of the board,” Rendel says. “Most boards I work with are glad to be meeting again in person, but also understand some changes are required to accommodate others and any in-person hesitancy. The hybrid model has been the most challenging because not everyone is in the same ‘room.’”
The board at $3.8 billion asset Langley Federal Credit Union in Newport News, Va., has agreed to meet virtually four times a year going forward, says Ted Henifin, board chair. The remaining eight meetings will be held in person. The credit union covers a large geographic area, making travel to in-person board meetings a challenge.
“That was the reason the board decided to continue some virtual meetings. This is especially true for board members still working full time,” Henifin says. “We discovered that either meeting fully virtually or fully in person is most effective.
“In the past, when one or two members were remote, meetings did not work well,” he continues. “Going forward we will apply that lesson and meet fully virtual if key members cannot attend physically.”
As vaccination levels rise, credit union directors and committee members will likely reconvene in the board room, allowing board members to connect.
“There is no denying that ‘people helping people’ works best when you can look someone in the eye and shake hands at the same time,” Banta says. “This philosophy is the same when it comes to board meetings.
“Our board and supervisory committee members get along well, and it will be refreshing to re-engage in person once again.”
Even though the board set aside time at the start of Hiway’s virtual board meetings for informal conversations, McGinnis is looking forward to catching up and socializing with other directors in person.
Henifin, too, is looking forward to “resuming the interpersonal interactions that build deeper relationships.”
Whether meeting virtually, in person, or with a hybrid option, Rendel urges boards to commit to an intentional agenda designed around important decisions and feedback the CEO desires from directors.
“This shifts the focus from what happened last month to what is necessary to continue moving forward.”