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Good Governance: 'Quantum' Board Engagement


July 2014 – Vol: 37 No. 7
by Michael G. Daigneault, CCD

Six questions to help you more fully get your board engaged

July 22, 2014

Credit Union Management magazine’s Web-only “Good Governance” runs the fourth Tuesday of the month.

Diagram of quantum governance model diagramming the six questionsThe board meeting is a good place to start working on board engagement, as I discussed in my last Good Governance column. However, you’ll need to go well beyond the board meeting experience to really make headway on director engagement.

At Quantum Governance, L3C, we recommend answering these six key questions to help you more fully engage your directors in their work toward fulfilling the mission and vision of your credit union:

  1. Are your directors emotionally connected to your mission? The roots of the credit union movement are deep. For more than 100 years, credit unions have been providing quality financial services to their members. Are your directors aware of and committed to the cooperative principles that drive the movement? Are they committed to democratic member control? Voluntary and open membership? Cooperation among cooperatives?
  2. Do your directors understand what they can do to help? Does each board member have a sense of the value that are contributing? But for their active contribution, how would the work of the board and credit union be less? This question also reflects on the very purpose of board meetings and how their agendas are crafted. Don’t just focus on telling or reporting – this tends to foster a type of passive oversight from your directors.
  3. Are they working at the appropriate skill and ability level? Nothing dampers someone’s interest more quickly than feeling like they’re either over- or under-whelmed with the task at hand. Be sure your directors are adequately briefed and appropriately assigned to the right committee or taskforce, one that matches – and engages, their interests, skills and abilities.
  4. Are you sustaining their involvement throughout the year? This question extends beyond your monthly meetings. Are directors actively engaged between board meetings? Are you exposing your directors to other aspects of your credit union’s business? Are they attending outreach and community events? Are they serving as enthusiastic ambassadors and representing the credit union with real pride?
  5. Do you and your colleagues challenge yourselves to improve everyone’s performance? Not surprisingly, the notion of continual learning and improvement is often a key to sustained engagement. Stagnation begets stagnation. This is particularly a key issue in the credit union community where board turnover takes place slowly. As such, it is even more important for you and your fellow directors to participate in a regular process of self-evaluation and improvement.
  6. Is your leadership constantly building the web of relationships you need to succeed – both internally and externally? Focus on the resources available to you and your directors – from members of your senior management team to community resources and national educational resources like those offered by CUES. There are about 7,000 credit unions in the United States and more internationally. It’s safe to say you are not alone in your experiences and questions. Reach out. Actively engage, share what you have learned and keep learning from others. The rewards will be plentiful – for you – for them – and for your members!

Michael Daigneault, CCD, serves as chief executive officer of CUES strategic provider Quantum Governance, L3C, and has more than 30 years of experience in the field of governance, management, strategy, planning and facilitation. Daigneault has served as an executive in residence at CUES Governance Leadership Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business.

Photocredit: Quantum Governance

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