Satisfied CU Boards Don't Micromanage, Study Suggests

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Boards that don't seek to micromanage the credit union are the most satisfied, according to a new study that seeks to determine satisfaction among credit union volunteers.

The new report from the Filene Research Institute examines the relationship between 16 different activities and board satisfaction, and divides those activities into three groups: strategic planning, strategic decisions and non-strategic activities. The research, entitled "Enhancing Board Satisfaction at Credit Unions," was conducted by Florida Institute of Technology professor Julie Siciliano, who administered surveys to directors and CEO's of credit unions in Massachusetts and New York.

According to the author, the research found that in general credit union board members have a good or high level of satisfaction with their role. However, there are notable variations across credit unions.

Siciliano noted there is a statistically significant correlation between board satisfaction and the board's level of involvement in 17 of the 19 activities or groups of activities measured. However, the strength of this relationship varies considerably across different types of activities.

Only one activity was negatively correlated with satisfaction: spending a large portion of meetings dealing with day-to-day operations. "Satisfied boards are not micro-managing credit unions, and they should not be doing so," the report observed.

Positive Activities

Of the activities positively related to board satisfaction, the strongest relationships were with several non-strategic activities including: 1) close monitoring of financial soundness; 2) involvement in assessing the appropriate skills/characteristics required of board members; 3) conducting a formal evaluation of the CEO annually; and 4) active involvement in policy making. "Furthermore, the overall average degree to which the board is involved in ALL four of these activities in this composite group is the strongest indicator of board satisfaction uncovered in this study," the author stated.

Other activities that show a very strong relationship with board satisfaction are strategic planning activities, the report stated, including: 1) reviewing environmental conditions to identify trends; 2) identifying long-range goals; 3) developing strategic action plans to achieve these goals; and 4) monitoring plan implementation.

Activities that have relatively weak relationships with board satisfaction include: 1) involvement in developing a mission statement; 2) participating in a formal strategic planning session; and 3) having 75% or better attendance at board meetings. "It appears that being at a meeting or a planning session is not as important as what happens at these sessions," the author observed.

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