By Jennie Boden and Dr. Alexander Stein
An analysis of Hudson Valley CU’s work to revise key governance processes.
Quantum Governance and Dolus Advsiors are pleased to offer the following key outcomes and lessons learned from our work with $6.1 billion Hudson Valley Credit Union in revisioning and revising their nominations process. (For more background, read the feature story detailing the work we did with Hudson Valley CU.) Key Outcomes The nominations sub-committee learned it could be nimble, coalesce around change and have a significantly increased impact on the future of the Hudson Valley CU board and supervisory committee. In the end, the members were proud of the changes they implemented and the outcome of their work. And, importantly, they served as a model on how to welcome and adapt to change for other elements of the governance system at Hudson Valley CU. There was an increased level of trust attained between members of the nominations sub-committee and the CEO—primarily through the CEO’s participation in the nominations process, but also as an extension of the still-developing constructive partnership between the board, supervisory committee and CEO/management. All the volunteers—board and committee members—gained a new and enhanced understanding of their capabilities and, despite initial trepidations, developed a significantly greater appreciation for the upsides of transformational change. The previous governance committee and the old nominations committee combined in an integrated model to become the new governance and nominations committee. This provides the credit union with the structure, know-how and horsepower to better meet its members’ needs given its size and complexity. Lessons Learned Include everyone in the discussions, right from the start—board members, supervisory committee members, nominations committee members, the CEO—when you’re a) discussing why and how you want to change the nomination process; and b) what the ideal board or supervisory/audit committee of the future looks like for your credit union. Cast your net wide for new candidates and volunteers. Ensure that every candidate attaches a resume or curriculum vitae to their submitted application. And be sure that you update your application to obtain the information that you need—in alignment with your call for candidates. Don’t assume that your current board and supervisory committee members are the right members for the future. Vet them as thoroughly and fully as you vet your new candidates—and against the same requirements. Prepare both the volunteers on your nominations committee and your incumbents for navigating emotionally hard decisions. Meeting the requirements of creating the board and supervisory/audit committee of the future may necessitate the departure of a long-term volunteer colleague. Ensure that the roles and responsibilities for your volunteer positions are clear, including the time commitment. Even with all the communications shared with the Hudson Valley CU candidates, several candidates expressed surprise at the level of commitment required after joining. It doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the gate. Not every tool you develop or innovation you incorporate will immediately work flawlessly. And that’s okay. Keep experimenting. One example: We developed a scoring sheet for the nominations sub-committee that ended up being more of a hindrance than a help. It was quickly set aside, and the members of the sub-committee moved on. Balance urgency and patience. A member of the governance and nominations committee admitted wishing they had developed an associate board member program years ago. But there had been resistance, and it was shelved. When the proposal was introduced last year as a part of these innovations, the practice was enthusiastically adopted. Change takes time. Prioritize equity, diversity and inclusion. Ensure that your credit union is aware of how systemic inequalities adversely affect society—and your credit union. This conscious commitment to equity will enhance organizational decision-making, lead to greater diversity around the leadership table, and help directors and executives alike develop a more inclusive, shared understanding of what everyone has to say and contribute.