OnBoard CEO Paroon Chadha, who co-founded Passageways in 2003.

How skills tracking can aid a board during succession planning

Best practices to replace outgoing board members.

August 1, 2022

Your credit union’s best board members won’t remain board members forever. You’ll need to replace the skills those board members take with them once they’re gone.

A current board member might be able to easily assume the roles of the departed member. But if no one has the skills the former board member displayed, you’ll need to find someone who does.

Skills tracking and a sound board succession plan can ease these transitions.

What skills tracking does for your board

Skills tracking, a measurable effort to identify and utilize board directors’ experiences, backgrounds, and expertise, gives your credit union board better visibility into current board composition. If the only board member with an IT background departs, you’ll need to replace that member with another who is tech-savvy.

Board portals can include your board members’ characteristics, giving you an overview of your board’s skill set. From there, you can identify gaps in your board’s knowledge, diversity, experience level, or any other area, and select candidates who display those traits when your next board position opens.

The best boards leverage a mixture of skills and experience to provide diversity of thought; varying perspectives; and innovative, strategic discussions. An effective board portal can capture board skills data in a single secure, accessible repository.

What to do when a board member departs

A credit union board member’s departure can cause problems for an organization that doesn’t have a sound process for filling the vacancy. An NCUA analysis found that poor management succession planning was a reason for almost one-third (32%) of credit union consolidations.

Creating and executing a board succession plan is an ongoing process that includes evaluating board composition and competencies, including regular gap analysis. Boards that track their skills will have an edge over those who don’t when it’s time to fill a vacancy.

Follow these eight steps to establish an effective credit union board succession plan:

  1. Establish accountability. Ensure succession planning is ingrained as a regular part of board operations.
  2. Build buy-in. Emphasize the need for board succession planning and its benefits with other board members.
  3. Identify leadership priorities. Examine your credit union’s plan to determine the types of leadership qualities you’ll need to tackle challenges.
  4. Routinely evaluate board performance and competencies. Assess board members’ expertise and contributions at least annually to ID strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Conduct a gap analysis. Analyze findings from your skills tracking to identify any board competency gaps.
  6. Keep diversity top of mind. This includes gender, race, and nationality, but also age, experience, and expertise.
  7. Map upcoming vacancies. If your board has term limits, plan accordingly for expected departures.
  8. Develop a candidate pipeline. Build a list of qualified candidates based on board assessments and gap analyses.

PAROON CHADHA co-founded Passageways, OnBoard's parent company, in 2003, and currently serves as CEO. A frequent speaker at conferences who has been published in several magazines, Chadha’s first customer was $1.7 billion asset Purdue Federal Credit Union in West Lafayette, Ind.