Best Practices in Board Recruitment … Part (n+1)

Best Practices in Board Recruitment … Part (n+1)

By Tim Harrington and Kevin Smith

Board recruitment should be an ongoing process, a continuing cultivation. Everyone is super-busy, so making this as streamlined as possible for recruit-ers and recruit-ees is imperative. Building business card solutions and one-click information can do this.

As part of our roles for TEAM Resources we get the great privilege to spend time with credit union staff members, executives, CEOs and volunteers on a regular basis. Sometimes that’s part of individual consulting with organizations and sometimes while speaking to groups at trade events, conferences, schools, etc. And while we think we have some pretty great ideas about how to do things, we have to admit that we get a lot of great ideas and information from high performers who show up at these programs.

Develop a Range of Ideas/Options

Board Recruitment Prune Cultivate

Prune and Cultivate

Recently, while facilitating a two-day Strategic Board Governance workshop at the CUNA Volunteer Conference, we ran across one of those great ideas.

We’ve been noticing a lot more questions about board succession and recruitment lately, and a lot more requests for this as a speaking topic. There’s definitely more interest and concern about this within the credit union movement. This can be a good sign or a disconcerting one depending on whom you talk with and the perspectives.

On one hand, we’re happy to hear more directors concerned about diversity on the board, finding candidates that represent the membership in a wide variety of ways. And this attention to recruitment is sometimes coming BEFORE there is an emergency, or open seats on the board. (Imagine that!) On the other, recruitment still offers significant challenges, and it is still difficult for many of us to find candidates who don’t look exactly like ourselves, or who simply have availability. There are many challenges.

Have Your Resources Built and Ready

Part of what we preach at TEAM Resources is to prepare for recruiting opportunities in advance by having a clear job description for the board role thought out, written out and available. Then when you encounter (or track down) your ideal candidate you have this thought though and you have your elevator pitch ready on the tip of your tongue. People are busy, and you may have a small window of opportunity to catch that ideal candidate and make your case. You DO need to sell this, to make the value of it apparent. Here’s where the simple and great idea comes in:

One credit union we talked to has a webpage set up with this volunteer recruitment information. And they have business cards (!) printed for their directors to carry with easy access to the page. Brilliant! And so simple. Your elevator pitch is ready to go with back up resources only a click away!

Recruitment and Succession Planning can be challenging. We know. But take a few minutes here and there and pretty soon you’ll have a workable system, that is living/breathing, ongoing and constantly updated. This is manageable and totally worth it. But consider the business card example of how to keep things easy, for all involved. 

5 replies
  1. Jim Hicks says:

    Tim and Kevin,
    Recently, our Board is having discussions about recruiting new talent. Some fixate on a candidate must be a member and others feel, that we are limiting our pool of candidates. Please send me info on a session you may have that addresses these concerns. I will get the info to our Board chair for consideration.

    As a reminder, our credit union is Meriwest in Sam Jose, CA. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Jim Hicks
    Member of the Supervisory Committee

  2. Kevin Smith says:

    Hi Jim! Great to hear from you. It’s great to recruit current members for the board and committees. They already have buy-in for the credit union system. But I don’t like to be limited by the membership. If you can identify a “perfect” candidate or two who qualify for membership, why wouldn’t you want to recruit the best talent that you can? We should recruit from among the membership the very best we can, of course. But why stop there?
    I’ll follow up with you regarding your other request via email. Thanks for checking in.
    Kevin Smith

  3. Kem Siddons says:

    We’re having similar discussions and currently require a Board candidate be a primary member for at least two years to be eligible. Historically, we’ve had two members that joined just prior to applying and they were fine additions to the Board. As such, I believe in recruiting the best talent and favor eliminating this requirement. I would only advocate they be a member at the time of their formal application

  4. Kevin Smith says:

    I’m with you Kem. Thanks for the comment. I love to be able to recruit current members, as they tend to already have buy-in for the credit union model and culture. But as it’s increasingly difficult to recruit for these positions, I believe we should be identifying the best possible potential candidates and making them our “goal.” (So long as they qualify for membership.) A talented recruit, one would hope, would be willing to buy-in to the credit union philosophy if properly explained. :-)

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