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What’s Your Board’s Oversight Style?

Governance expert describes the continuum of board oversight styles, from rubber-stamping to micromanaging.

November 19, 2012
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Your CEOs want to hear your questions.

They want you to challenge them. And they want you to reward them.

Yvonne Evers, president of YME Coaching & Consulting, framed that scenario for attendees at CUNA’s National Credit Union Roundtable for Board Leadership. After the financial crisis, Evers says she received a lot of calls reflecting shaken confidence among CEOs and their boards.

“But it’s partly your responsibility to ensure that you’re communicating with your CEO,” she says.

Unfortunately, a lot of communication is faulty. Evers describes a continuum of board oversight, ranging from rubber-stamping to micromanaging. Rubber-stamping is to approve without question whatever your CEO or board committees recommend.

“This generally happens at credit unions with long-term CEOs,” she points out. “You’ll have short, fast board meetings as well. Do CEOs like this? A good CEO won’t. This oversight style means the board has no responsibility.”

Avoid rubber-stamping by:

Micromanaging, according to Evers, is to manage with excessive control, especially controlling operational details. Behaviors to avoid include:

CU Directors NewsletterIn addition to smaller credit unions, boards with a new CEO or a CEO with performance issues might also lean toward micromanagement, Evers explains.

“It can happen as you set more expectations for your CEO,” she says.

You’ll avoid micromanagement if you:

A culture of trust and respect, along with clear and consistent communication, can take you a long way to being successful as a board, Evers maintains.

And a lack of trust and respect can derail everything you’re trying to accomplish together. To ensure your board attains proper CEO oversight, Evers suggests these tips:

 This article first appeared in Credit Union Directors Newsletter

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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