How many years have you personally been on the credit union board of directors? If it’s more than a few, you have a lot of institutional knowledge. What details do you think would be helpful to teach or share with a new board member when they start?
Some credit unions don’t have new board members very often, so this may be an overlooked responsibility. But it’s important to remember that any new board member deserves to start with access to critical information and knowledge if they are expected to fulfill the role successfully. There are multiple ways to do this.
Pairing an incoming board member with someone who has served a number of terms can give new directors an easy “go-to” who can answer questions and help with the learning curve. The mentor and mentee should set up time outside actual board meetings to review things like the history of board decisions, the credit union’s strategic plan, and how they can make the most of their role as director. They might also find value in discussing ways to keep up and resources the mentor finds useful.
Credit unions often have the CEO hold an orientation session with incoming board members. That orientation might include a packet of information with credit union bylaws, policies, and structure. Some also use the opportunity to talk about the credit union system structure (including the league and CUNA) and where learning opportunities might lie in each. The board chair should also take the time to answer any questions on process and expectations for the new board member.
With the many online resources available, incoming board members can find value in a format that fits their learning style – it might be videos, books, podcasts, or a packet of information about your credit union. Hopefully, it includes our website for Credit Union Directors. They may also find that reading past board minutes gives them insight into past discussions and makes them aware of barriers and successes the credit union has faced and celebrated.
However you choose to onboard new board members, I hope you take some time to give them a voice and answer their questions. Everyone agrees that volunteering on a credit union board can be daunting, so easing the transition might just make it less painful for all parties!