I received some great feedback following last month’s article about the role of governance boards. Keenly aware of their ultimate responsibility for the organisation’s success, some board members struggle to know when to dig deeper into the detail and when to rely on what they are told. While there are no definitive answers, the following tips may help:
- Thoroughly prepare for your meetings by considering carefully all the information you have at hand. Are reports consistent with each other, your experience in similar situations and your knowledge of the industry and the business environment? What tone is used? What has not been said? Do success stories predominate?
- Ensure all potential conflicts of interest are declared and registered before decisions are made. These include between board members and management, and board members, management and third parties.
- Develop a culture where it is safe to fail. Are incentives for strong performance deterring staff from telling the board the complete picture? Are early warnings of risks and threats treated seriously and dealt with collaboratively? When things go wrong is the focus on blame or on finding solutions?
- Be approachable and interested in staff and volunteers at all levels of the organisation. Make time to listen. Maintain confidentiality and take action where appropriate.
- Drop into the organisation periodically. Are your observations consistent with what you have been told?
Members of a high performing board will have the courage to trust their judgement and the communication skills work together effectively. Good luck!
This article was first published in the Mercury Bay Informer of 2 May 2018. See www.theinformer.co.nz