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Tell Me Something I Don’t Know: What You Need to Know About Assessments

Michael Daigneault

Jun 26, 2018

We don’t know what we don’t know. It’s such an obvious thing to state, and yet we would suggest this simple statement of fact may be the key to the future of your credit union.  Often our clients approach us with a sense that although their credit union has a healthy balance sheet and continues to grow its membership and assets, there is a sense that they could be doing better — that their board and committees could be more effective in the work that they do on behalf of the credit union. Without an obvious or discernible problem, they just can’t put their finger on it.  Maybe it is time to “take stock” or assess. Remember, just because your credit union is doing well, it doesn’t mean that your board is following suit. In our experience, there are a number of occasions that may indicate that an assessment is needed. Some of them include…

Where do you start once you have recognized the need to undertake an assessment of some kind?   Although, most groups, including ours, will tailor assessments to the needs and issues facing your specific credit union, there are a few general types of assessment to keep in mind.

  • Assessment of the Board “As a Whole”

  • Review of Board Committees

  • Assessment of Board Officers including the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Committee Chairs

  • Self-Assessment by Individual Board Members, which may also include Peer-to-Peer Evaluation

  • Appraisal and review of CEO

  • Risk Assessment to address topics such as financial risk, strategic planning and risks associated with growing technologically

While assessment in and of itself is strongly recommended, thus CUES and Quantum Governance together offer a survey–only assessment tool, in our recently published The State of Credit Union Governance 2018 report we discovered that credit unions that don’t undertake a more comprehensive assessment at some point may receive results that skew almost exclusively positive. Such a skewed and rosy viewpoint could prevent some credit unions from taking necessary and corrective action. In many cases, a full governance assessment inclusive of surveys, interviews and document review is essential to truly understanding the challenges facing your credit union.

Since we don’t know, what we don’t know, we need to stay curious. Asking critical questions of yourselves and holding yourselves accountable is the only way to ensure the success of your governance and leadership efforts, as well as its impact on your community.

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