As if CEOs and other senior executives didn't have enough on their plates.
Not only do they have to navigate their credit unions through tumultuous economic times, but they also have to keep their staff motivated and find ways to develop talent and groom successors.
Those wanting a road map for dealing with these issues would do well to read The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers (Crown Business, 320 pp., $27.50).
Co-authors Bill Conaty, a former senior vice president of General Electric, and management consultant Ram Charan have written a readable and insightful book that keeps the jargon to a minimum.
The authors disprove the idea that managing people is a "soft" art. While there is certainly a great deal of subjectivity and emotional assessment involved, much of the process can be quite quantitative and objective.
They cite General Electric's approach, which has been in place for decades but was perfected during the tenure of legendary CEO Jack Welch and further refined by current CEO Jeffrey Immelt.
The system involves three extensive reviews annually of overall corporate strategy and how individuals fit into the strategy. These sessions also review the performance of employees, especially those who have been designated rising stars.
The company also uses what they call a "corporate organizational vitality assessment," which classifies top leaders as "top talent," "highly valued," or "less effective."
They recommend performance reviews that are direct but friendly and when suggesting improvements the manager should use clarity and specificity.
The talent management system, which among other goals is aimed at never having to go outside the company for a top leader, produces a leadership team that works well within a particular corporate culture but isn't always transferrable.
In addition to General Electric, the authors also use companies such as Procter & Gamble and Hindustan Unilever.
They praise Procter & Gamble's system for ensuring that the company's top leaders receive extensive domestic and international experiences.
Almost all of the book's examples are drawn from large companies. To be sure, some of the principles can work at smaller institutions such as credit unions. However, the book might have been even more helpful if it had included more case studies from small businesses.
That doesn't diminish much from the book's overall effectiveness. Credit union leaders looking for a way to learn about improving their human capital management will find that carving time out of their busy schedules to read The Talent Masters will be eminently worth their while.