Many credit unions have followed the lead of New York Stock Exchange listed companies in implementing a program of board self-assessment. This best practice gives boards that are serious about continuous improvement an opportunity to take a step back and dive deeply into board process to understand how it is functioning and how it can improve. The assessment is usually self-administered, but every several years, an outside firm can facilitate. This independent look can push directors to uncover aspects of board culture that inhibit effective functioning, identifying areas to address that lead to improvement. Whether self-administered or facilitated, certain decisions are made at the outset. These include: the structure and process of the assessment; the means of data collection, such as the type of survey instrument to be used (numerical, textual or both); who will collect the data: a director, someone in senior management or an external firm; will individual interviews be conducted; and will individual directors be evaluated?Assessment topics address board structure, processes, and director effectiveness. Types of questions can include: Are board agendas adequately addressing strategic priorities, risk management, and continuous learning? Is meeting frequency adequate given the board’s needs? Does management provide adequate board materials, and in a timely manner? Does the Board have the right committees? How are they functioning? What is the board’s relationship with the CEO? Is there sufficient feedback? Is there succession planning? Does the board have the talent and skills it needs? Is there diversity in gender and ethnic backgrounds, and also in perspective? Are directors adequately prepared for meetings? Is “airtime” well distributed? Are certain directors lacking in participation, preparedness or collegiality?The result of the assessment provides a point of reference for the board’s current practices. The analysis, however, should go beyond administrative governance issues to an examination of board culture, the unspoken structures and beliefs that determine behaviors. When undertaken with a spirit of learning and improvement, companies gain valuable and often unexpected insight. For example, one company that prided itself on a collegial board culture discovered that certain board members monopolized “airtime”, and many directors felt their skills and knowledge were not properly utilized. Another company discovered that their directors had many differing views on strategic priorities. Another board discovered it lacked receptivity to innovation and, in fact, it stifled the creativity of senior management by knee-jerk criticism of new ideas.An assessment of individual director performance should occur through annual self-assessment and also when an outside firm conducts the board assessment. The self-assessment provides useful information to the director about what is expected, as the questions themselves are based on director best practices. When a facilitator is employed, a constructive independent viewpoint can aid an individual in addressing shortfalls in knowledge or approach. For example, if several directors identify a deficiency or problem with a specific board member, the board chair or a trained professional can undertake the delicate process of providing feedback to help with their growth. Often this process will benefit the board as a whole, especially when the behaviors of one or two directors limit overall board effectiveness.Credit union members deserve well-functioning boards that are looking after their interests. A quality process of board assessment that supports leadership action for improvement will go a long way toward satisfying this goal. Your board may be working well today, but it can always improve and prepare more effectively for the future. 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Stuart R. Levine Founded in 1996, Stuart Levine & Associates LLC is an international strategic planning and leadership development company with focus on adding member value by strengthening corporate culture.SL&A … Web: www.Stuartlevine.com Details
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