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A Direct Line Blog

Advice From the Chair

June 15, 2022 7:30 am

By Donya Parrish, MCU VP- Risk Management

Last month, our blog, Tag, You’re It! discussed being a new board chair and offered some suggestions for learning the role. Two Montana credit union chairmen were gracious enough to offer some additional advice on how they feel the role can be approached for success.

Patrick Erger, Billings FCU board chair, finds that it comes down to relationship building and open communication. One of the most important things for him, he said, has been “to develop and maintain an effective relationship with each director and senior management staff and, most importantly, to have continuous ongoing discussions with the CEO.” Patrick says he also tries to check with his CEO on how things are going (often just popping into the credit union to sit down for a quick chat) and to sit in on the ALCO meetings.

At Vocal CU in Helena, Pete Stiles spent many years in the chair seat but has recently moved into a position of helping mentor a new chair. Pete says he found success in making sure he and management were on the same page and engaging all board members during their meetings. To do that, he took defined steps before and during the board meeting both to prepare and keep the meeting running smoothly. Here are the steps he found to be effective:

Before Meeting

Go over agenda with CEO to

  • question the points that the CEO wants to make;
  • add new thoughts that he or the CEO think are pertinent; and
  • mark agenda points that need a motion and a vote.

During Meeting

  • Start on time
  • Go through the agenda step by step, having the CEO explain things he needs to explain
  • Refresh people’s memories on acronyms
  • Try to get all members involved in conversations; question them directly as needed
  • Rein conversations back in if they get off-topic
  • When no one makes a motion, ask someone directly to make one
  • Ensure the whole agenda is addressed, check off items as dealt with

End of Meeting

  • Go once around the table, call on everyone to say what they thought of the meeting making sure they have a chance to express their opinions or concerns
  • When people have a disagreement and a vote is taken that’s not unanimous, make sure when the meeting is done that everyone is on board and will carry out the decision made during the meeting

And, Pete adds, “using humor during the meeting can be a good thing.” We all agree with you there, Pete!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Patrick and Pete! And, if you need a tool to help with that acronym refresher mentioned above, here is a primer that NCUA offered a few years ago.


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