How Skills Tracking Can Aid a Board With Succession Planning

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Paroon Chadha Photo
Co-Founder and CEO

3 minutes

When board members leave, their unique skills go out the door with them.

It’s inevitable. Your best, brightest credit union board members won’t remain board members forever. Eventually, you’ll need to replace them.

More importantly, you’ll need to replace the skills those board members take with them. Will a current board member be able to easily assume the roles of the departed member? Maybe. But if no one else can hone the skills the ex-board member brought to the table, you’ll need to find someone who can.

That’s one of many reasons skills tracking and a sound board succession plan can ease these transitions, which will likely happen constantly.

What Skills Tracking Does for Your Board

Skills tracking, a measurable effort to identify and utilize board directors’ unique experiences, backgrounds and expertise, provides insights into competencies for better visibility into current board composition. If only one board member has an IT background, when that director departs, you’ll probably need to replace that person with another who is equally tech-savvy.

Ideally, you’ll utilize a board portal that allows you to enter your board’s experience, background and expertise and gives you an overview of your board’s skill set. From there, you can identify gaps in your board’s knowledge, diversity, experience level or any other area you wish to prioritize and select candidates who display those traits when your next board position opens.

The best boards leverage the right mixture of skills and experience to provide diversity of thought; varying perspectives; and innovative, strategic discussions. An effective board portal can capture board skills data in a single, secure repository that’s accessible when needed.

What To Do When a Board Member Departs

A credit union board member’s departure can cause significant turbulence for organizations that don’t have a sound process for filling the vacancy. A sound succession plan helps boards recruit more effectively as director terms expire and board vacancies approach.

Unfortunately, this smooth transition isn’t a reality for most boards. An analysis from the National Credit Union Administration found that poor management succession planning was either a primary or secondary reason for almost one-third (32%) of credit union consolidations.

Creating and executing a board succession plan is an ongoing process that includes evaluating board composition and competencies, including regular gap analysis. This helps boards identify opportunities for improvement so it can better meet needs. When it’s time to fill a vacancy, boards that track their skills will have a head start on those who don’t.

Eight Steps to Successful Succession Planning

Follow these eight steps to establish an effective credit union board succession plan:

  1. Establish accountability. Ensure succession planning is ingrained as a regular part of board operations.
  2. Build buy-in. Emphasize with other board members the need for board succession planning and its benefits.
  3. Identify leadership priorities. Examine your credit union’s strategic plan to determine the types of leadership qualities you’ll need to tackle current and future challenges.
  4. Routinely evaluate board performance and competencies. Assess board members’ expertise and contributions at least annually to identify strengths and improvement areas.
  5. Conduct a gap analysis. Analyze findings from your skills tracking to identify any gaps in board competencies.
  6. Keep diversity top of mind. This includes gender, race and nationality, but also age, experience and expertise.
  7. Map upcoming vacancies. If your board has term limits, you’ll know when to expect some departures. Plan accordingly.
  8. Develop a candidate pipeline. Build a list of potential qualified candidates based on your board assessments and gap analyses.

Paroon Chadha co-founded Passageways, OnBoard’s parent company, in 2003 as a Purdue University graduate student, and continues to lead its business strategy as CEO. His first customer was a credit union (Purdue Federal Credit Union), and he is a frequent speaker at conferences and has been widely published in several magazines. OnBoard is a CUES Supplier member.

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