By Donya Parrish, MCU VP Risk Management
Have you ever struggled with getting a board member to attend meetings? It is not unusual for someone to have an occasional conflict or an emergency that requires them to miss a monthly board meeting. But what about when that starts to become a regular occurrence? That can impact your ability to have a quorum or rely on their area of expertise to move forward with major decisions. Below are a couple options to consider:
- Offer virtual attendance — One positive of going through COVID was learning that virtual board meeting attendance by Zoom, Teams, or by phone can be done well. If someone is dealing with a health or family matter that doesn’t allow them to attend in person, but they are available to participate remotely, the credit union should have a policy or process to allow it if the chair approves.
- Ask for a resignation — When a director is regularly missing meetings and unavailable, it might be time for them to look at whether they should continue holding a board seat. They may have career or family obligations that have changed and no longer allow them the time they anticipated to prepare for and attend meetings. As a member, they can always run again in the future if their availability improves.
- Change meeting time — I know a few of you just gasped at the suggestion to do something outside how you have done it for years (decades?), but depending on the board members you have or are trying to attract, your meeting schedule may be the problem. For example, if you have a mostly retired board, maybe a mid-day or later afternoon meeting time works for them; but, if you have working individuals or self-employed directors, they might need an early morning or evening meeting to work around their career obligations.
- Adopt an attendance policy — While not intended to punish a specific individual, it is generally when one person’s attendance at board meetings becomes an issue that an attendance policy is looked at or approved. Being proactive and looking at a policy now could help with a situation in the future. Or, you might already have one that is not being enforced, or not even known about. Reviewing your governing documents to see what they require could head off a future controversy.
Attracting and retaining volunteer board members continues to be a challenge for credit unions, so the suggestion to encourage folks to leave for non-attendance might seem counterproductive. But, keep in mind that if a board member’s seat is regularly empty, they are not fulfilling their role and helping the credit union move forward. We have a couple of blogs in the A Direct Line archive on Board Succession that might be of interest to develop your strategy for attracting replacements — Is Your Board Looking Far Enough Forward? and Little Book of Best Practices are just a sample of what you can find.