Everyone knows that the loneliest guy in town is the Maytagrepairman. But there are some credit union folks who are a lot morelonely. They are the credit union CEOs who leave their credit unionearly one day because they have been told they no longer workthere. The scenario usually works something like this: Theunsuspecting CEO is told to be present at a special meeting. It isalmost always a very brief meeting with the CEO doing little if anytalking. Something like this is said: “the board has decided totake the credit union in a different direction,” or, “the board haslost confidence in your ability to manage this credit union.” “Signhere (letter of “resignation” with a confidentiality clause )unless you want to leave with empty pockets.” Unfortunately, CUboards unceremoniously booting credit union CEOs out the door withvirtually no advance notice, warning, or even a hint that there wasa problem seems to be happening more frequently. Often times theaxe falls shortly after the disengaged CEO returns from anout-of-town credit union meeting of some kind. In a number ofcases, the CEO is escorted out the door not too long afterreceiving a favorable performance appraisal by the board. Whatimpact does this ambush method of dismissal have on the fired CEO?First, the fired CEO feels an immediate sense of isolation. He orshe is hard pressed to even find someone to talk to about thesituation. He or she is prohibited from attempting to seek reasonsfor the dismissal and why it was handled so inhumanely. Or fromjust crying on the shoulders of his or her former staff. Or anysympathetic board members. Furthermore, he or she is told not totalk to other credit union CEOs, vendors, league and other CU groupstaffers, but especially not to the press. Or else! Violate theconfidentiality gag order and pay for it in your wallet. Thus theunexpected “resignation” remains shrouded in mystery often to eventhe credit union's staffers. Who can blame the former CEO fromfeeling pretty much alone in the world at this point with no one totalk to? While still in a state of shock and sitting at home asking“why?”, displaced CEOs immediately learn who their friends are.Some colleagues will quickly get in touch with the former CEO tooffer sympathy, moral support, and to help them get through theexperience. But not many. Most “friends” quickly get swept up inthe over-active credit union rumor mill. In the process many timesthey end up thinking the worst of the CEO. They don't have anyfacts, but nevertheless generate a lot of juicy speculation. Atsome point the shock begins to wear off. That's when theout-of-work CEO realizes that because he or she wasn't looking fora job and, in fact, had no plans to leave the credit union, theyrealize that they don't even have a current resume with which tobegin the arduous search for a new position. Or remember how to doone. Many of these CEOs have not been without a job for even a daysince they first entered the job market. They have never beenwithout a regular paycheck. Panic begins to set in. So doesreality. And questions arise. Because of family considerations(kids in school; spouse's job), must I limit my job search to thisarea? Where and how do I begin? Will another CU board want to evenconsider hiring me knowing the way my departure was handled? How doI answer the question: “Why did you leave your last position?” CanI get influential references that can get me past this hurdle? Willany of the executive recruiters who specialize in CU positions beable to assist me? Or will they shun me? Should I take the firstjob offered? At less pay? At a smaller credit union? Would I fit inat one of the CU organizations? Should I apply for a vendorposition? Will my former colleagues welcome me with open arms whenI try and sell them something? As the questions pour out of theformer CEOs, the loneliness intensifies. It doesn't take longbefore most realize that they have been virtually cut off fromeverything to do with credit unions. They are asked to resign fromvolunteer positions they held by virtue of their full-time job.They are taken off of every mailing list. (I frequently put theseCEOs on a comp list for Credit Union Times so that they can stayconnected and up to speed while looking.) In short, they arebanished to a lonely world of their own. I have been in touch withonce apparently very successful credit union CEOs who simplycouldn't handle their situation. Depression, drinking, and even anattempted suicide entered the picture. I am personally aware ofmany who were in the twilight of their careers when the boom waslowered. They never did get another credit union job or even oneanywhere near the level of their former CEO position. They mighthave if they had seen it coming or were given sufficient warning tomake other plans. Is it really that bad when these types ofdismissals occur? Yes. Do all fired CU CEOs fit these descriptions?Of course not. Some bounce back a lot faster than others. Some lookback on the experience and realize it was the best thing that couldhave happened to them. Nevertheless, there has to be a better wayfor a board and its CEO to part company. If the CEO really shouldhave known that he or she was in trouble and D-Day could beimminent, that's one thing. But there's no reason to blindside anycredit union CEO, especially one who apparently did a good enoughjob to fill the top slot for many years. Is there? Comments? Call1-800-345-9936, Ext. 15, or Fax 561-683-8514, or [email protected].

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