Good Governance: Millennials Are Many Things, Including Your Future Board Leaders

Hand of a business man holding a crystal ball glowing aqua blue
Michael G. Daigneault, CCD Photo
Quantum Governance L3C
Gisèle Manole Photo
Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Consultant
Quantum Governance L3C

3 minutes

Getting to know them can aid your recruiting.

If you had a crystal ball that allowed you to peer into the future, my guess is that a number of you might use it to—among other things—help ensure your credit union’s success. Critical to any such success, however, is the answer to the question: Who sits on your Board?

Perhaps one of the most alarming things we at Quantum Governance discovered in our research for The State of Credit Union Governance 2018 was that a full 46 percent of respondents describe their credit union’s effectiveness at finding, recruiting and nominating new board talent as only adequate or less than adequate. The ongoing challenge to attract the best talent to serve on your board is as old as it is evergreen.

So, while a crystal ball may be helpful in identifying who holds the keys to your credit union’s future, it likely falls short of providing you with a practical means to actually recruit future board members into service—particularly the younger generations of potential board members. As anyone who has endeavored to recruit talent to their board can attest, you have to know a thing or two about who you’re looking for.

So who are your credit union’s future board leaders and how might you connect with them?

As the large Baby Boomer generation (1946-1964) retires from board service, Generation X (1965-1980) does not have the numbers to fill their seats. As such, the Millennial generation (1981-1996) will have to be invited to serve in leadership positions as soon as possible. Don’t underestimate them...many are ready to serve effectively right now!

Millennials are, of course, a unique generation and it’s more important than ever to understand the types of things that set them apart from previous generations.

They are most effectively recruited by...other millennials. You should use any millennial board, associate board, board committee and staff members you may already have to actively recruit effective new young leaders. You can also reach out to connected members of the credit union and to key players in business, government and nonprofit organizations in communities where your credit union operates. Even if you don’t know them yet, find a way to reach out, make new friends, and actively introduce your credit union to them.

They are the most ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history. We often hear that boards are striving to look more like their membership. The millennial generation embodies the diversity needed to ensure that members are properly and culturally represented.

They are early adopters and technologically savvier than previous generations. As your membership migrates online, so do many of your products and services. Engaging your members through contemporary, user-friendly, and secure mobile and digital interfaces will help grow your credit union and attract younger members.

They are optimistic about the future and educated. Positivity fuels productivity. Millennials see possibilities and have an eye trained on the future—which is exactly where you need to set your sights in order to succeed in fulfilling your credit union’s vision and mission. Millennials are often keenly interested in professional development opportunities. You can suggest that board service is certainly a great one!

They are interested in helping people and supporting causes. To date, many millennials have been relatively unattached to religion or organized politics (although that may be changing). This leaves a critical mass of them open to the social purpose and mission-centered credo of credit unions. Sure, focus on excellent products and services, but don’t underestimate the power of “cause” and the good work a credit union can do.

Ultimately, inviting new ideas and fresh thinking to your board meetings will have consequences. Appreciate the renewed energy and passion it brings. Appreciate also millennials’ talents. Be patient as you work through the challenges and questions that will also arise.

As you bring on new board members, it’s important to remember that a robust orientation to your credit union and board service is essential to a successful transition. We are confident you will find that millennials are a vital human and leadership “investment” for your credit union that will pay off extremely well now—and far into the future.

Michael Daigneault, CCD, is CEO and Gisèle Manole is director of C=communications and associate consultant for Quantum Governance, L3C, Vienna, Va., and a CUES strategic provider.

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