How Well Is Your Board Working?

This is always a good time of year to take a step back and looks at how well your board is working.  Are you getting the support you need and the best from its members?  No board is perfect.  The chances are there is always something that could be better.

If you’ve had your board in place for a while, it’s probably time that it was reviewed. I tend to do this in three parts when invited to do so as an independent, but you could do it for yourself.

The important thing is to get out in the open thoughts regarding the successes and a record of progress to date and note of any obstacles, issues or remaining frustrations; look at what are the important challenges faced by the trading area and consider if the current board is the right one to help meet those challenges.  It helps if you prioritise any issues your board is facing.

When you know what’s important, it is also critical that you are realistic about what can be achieved. Understanding the dynamics of partnership will help you get the maximum support from existing and potential supports and partners. That might mean looking that the governance of the current partnership.

Key Issues questions to ask include:

  • Is there lack of knowledge? This is one of the easiest issues to address.  There are many sources of information on governance. It’s easy to provide information to your board or to run short training sessions.  The start of a new BID term is a good time to re-visit this.
  • Is it a mismatch in understanding and of what is expected? This kind of problem can often be helped by having clear policies and procedures in place (for example job descriptions for board members, a code of conduct; conflict of interest policy)
  • Are board meeting stimulating, even fun? Be clear about each agenda item and ensure the meeting focuses on the most important and substantial items.
  • Has your board got key processes in place (e.g. an appraisal process for the CEO, and the Chair; an induction process)?
  • Do some of your board members need support and development? You might like to consider training or mentoring to help them develop appropriate skills (a skills audit can help this)
  • Is it about how the board interact with each other? Ideally, you want to create a culture where all members of the board feel responsible for the success of the meeting (and delivery of the business plan) and can help move a discussion on if it is becoming bogged down
  • Is your board out of touch or stuck in its ways? You may want to look at exchange visits, or helping board members interact with your key

The number of issues you can address at any one time will depend on what resources you have to tackle the issue.  Be realistic about the time, energy and money you can put in.

Benefits

  • Getting out in the open the thoughts and views regarding the success and progress to date together with any frustrations.
  • The opportunity to engage with stakeholders.
  • A clear remit for action and, if necessary, change.
  • Valued and valuable board members

 

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