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A blog addressing issues and topics of interest for Montana credit union board members. Read a new post every week. 

Boards, Take a Look Inward to Improve

by Donya Parrish, MCUN

Does your credit union board do a self-assessment? I don’t mean set up a mirror on occasion and have each member tell themselves “I am the best board member this credit union has ever seen.” I mean a real assessment -- where you evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, areas to improve, etc. It is highly recommended, and you can start simply to avoid adding additional time to your commitment to the credit union.

Bob Harris of The Nonprofit Center describes the benefit of a board self-evaluation in some of the materials he makes available on his website. He states, “Volunteers are busy people who contribute great value to the organization. The evaluation process is an approach to ensure the best use of the board’s time; as well as helping everyone understand and distinguish their roles and responsibilities.” How can you argue with that?

CUNA’s VAP module offers a very simple process to get started. It includes a list of 11 questions each board member should review after each meeting. For each, board members simply answer "Exceeds," "Meets," or "Below Expectations." The questions cover whether the agenda was clear and materials were delivered timely, whether education was relevant, the meeting ran efficiently, and if the discussions stayed on a strategic path (“out of the weeds” as Bob Harris would say). 

The next step for most boards would be to dive deeper into board governance, succession and orientation (for the board itself), committees, and more. This might best be accomplished at an annual strategic planning session, which most boards hold.

There are many forms, materials, and tools available to assist with having your board members provide their input and helping the group move toward the best efficiency possible. After all, if the board improves, the credit union is likely to improve too. Isn’t a stronger, better financial cooperative for your membership the ultimate goal? I think so, and encourage you to check out some of the resources below.

Donya Parrish is the VP-Dues Supported Services for the Montana Credit Union Network. She would welcome any questions or comments on this material. You can email Donya or call her at 800-745-5546, ext. 122.

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