Board meetings serve many purposes, but one of the most important is the role it plays in creating an atmosphere that challenges the insider perspective of the credit union management team. A board meeting should be the quality control check on our thinking and how the outside world might challenge it.

As a board member, your perspective on the operations of the credit union comes from the outside, similarly to that of an examiner or auditor. Just like an examiner would do, the board can use this perspective to challenge the credit union management team to effectively communicate their strategies, the direction of credit union resources, and their explanation of results in a way that the outside world can comprehend, align with and respond to. This is one of the first and most important tests of what an organization hopes will be a solid acceptance of an organization’s stated intent.

This is one of the reasons that the board must not become internalized, or “yes men.” Credit unions rely on the member point of view in the board room to help craft their direction, challenge their reasoning, and conrm their mission—that all comes from healthy debate and challenges that dig for more clarity.

It is easy for an executive to make the mistake of insulating themselves from challenges to their game plans, the status quo, or even evaluations of results. And then, when something goes wrong with a third party such as a regulator, examiner, or auditor, and the challenges come pouring in, the executive finds themselves unprepared to respond. They simply have not practiced, honed their responses, and learned to put forth presentations designed for external points of view. It is a board’s responsibility through regular interactions and expectations that this “external response” is always prepared, and even welcomed.

If this culture exists, executives nd themselves preparing better presentations, crafting better market messages, and designing more engaging teams—they simply challenge themselves to be market ready for every event.

So as a board member are you ready to be the catalyst for debate, and to help your team document where you are going, what you have accomplished, and the fact that you are meeting challenges with a well-designed message? Are you ready with the right questions?

This website does not have ALL of the questions that you might ask, but it is a start and is part of you building a tool for you and future generations of board member to use in working with your executive team. And more than just questions to challenge your management team, we hope you will use it to challenge yourselves as board members of a credit union.