GET ON BOARD: 3 common challenges faced by governance boards
Governance work with boards can be a really boring subject for some people - those people are not ME!
Over the years, I’ve gained a lot from my personal experiences on various boards as well as the work that I have done with clients. I’ve been the newbie member, the board president, the consultant and the client, and as much as boards are all different, they tend to aspire to the same goals and experience similar challenges.
When meeting with new clients I tend to ask a lot of questions to best understand the board structure, the processes, the relationships and the past/present experience, in order to develop the right strategies to put in place.
There are three common challenges when it comes to Board governance:
1. Overlooking Orientation: Often a Board member will sit at the table 3-4 times before feeling like they clearly understand the process and their role. Usually, it is only once they feel comfortable that they start asking questions, participating and contributing to the meetings. This anxiety can be curbed by ensuring proper orientation for the new
board members and engaging seasoned members to help explain processes during the meetings.
2. Sidestepping Strategic Planning: A strategic plan is KEY to good governance. It helps establish a compass, defines parameters for strategic decisions at the Board level, and flows down to the operational plan to help the executive director make healthy decisions at the organizational level. This plan is usually developed or renewed every 3-5 years during a strategic planning process. What happens next is common: the plan is rarely revisited, audited or reviewed till it's time to make a new one. It's important to keep this valuable asset close during meetings and evaluate the results periodically to ensure that the organization is on track.
3. Cuts in Communications: Boards should speak as ONE voice. Their executive members are in place to ensure roles and responsibilities, but they are not there to govern by themselves. It is important that all board members be involved in decision-making and also be privy to all the same information. Often times, Board members are not all engaged at the same time (this is normal). It is however important that they be brought up to speed during meetings to that decisions happen at the Board level.
Often, strategies and solutions can be implemented as quick fixes. Other times, they require a little more work and time to get everyone on “Board” (see what I did there?! 😆).
Since every Board works at their own pace, my support and my consulting is adapted to enhance what the Board already has, to strategize efficiencies and to engage everyone in the process. It’s important to me that everyone have fun in the process!
We’re all in this together, trying to make the best decisions for the organization. I love helping at the governance level.
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