How do you improve the performance of your board? If your board members are not empowered to contribute to the board discussion, chances they will start missing the board meetings when called are high. Board members mostly add value during board meetings.
Below are three ideas to improve the performance of your board.
Give board members specific projects
An effective board starts the board chairman or chairperson. A good board chairman understands the company’s strategy, the bylaws, the competitive landscape the future of the industry. The board must identify strategic projects and initiatives that the board must deliver during the term. To win, the Chairman must identify one of the board members and assign them to champion specific projects, depending on their specialty. This helps individual board members to stay active and get involved even if such a board member is a chair of any committee.
During the term of the board, the chairman should rotate projects to all board members to understand their commitment levels, mobilization skills and ability to work with the executive to win without overbearing or involvement in the day to day tasks. For example, a project to implement a new IT system could be assigned to be championed by a board member conversant with IT matters on the board assuming the board lacks an IT committee. If the company has an IT committee or a similar committee, any member on that committee could be assigned to champion the project on behalf of the committee.
Keep board meetings interesting
Board members add value to the company during board meetings. A good chairman of the board makes board meetings interesting. First, have the executive deliver the board papers to members in advance.
A good executive or CEO must invest a lot of time in writing quality board papers and preparing clear board packs that facilitate decision making and are visually compelling and easy to read. For example, you want board papers that specify whether they are for information, updates, or decision making or other. A board paper for a decision must clearly describe briefly the type of decision required, and the options available and the recommended option and provide space for the director’s view. That way, members are empowered to examine which other information could have been missed, the adequacy of the assumptions and the appropriateness of the recommended option.
A good board paper also provides the sensitivity analysis of the option showing if the recommended option is taken, what would happen in case of the worst-case or best-case scenarios. This helps the board members understand their risk appetite.
And, great board chairs provide an opportunity for each board member to have a take at an issue before a decision is taken. You don’t want to provide a lot of board airtime to only vocal board members.
You can make meetings interesting by providing a rich agenda that is not rigid on just reviewing papers – you provide breaks for team building activities, quality learning on great topics, role plays and members’ contributions, among others. Remember, a good board agenda makes interesting meetings. The CEO should work with the company secretary and board chairman to make a fantastic agenda.
No professional wants to come to a board and leave without contributing to any idea!
Host social events periodically, in addition to formal board meetings
Invite board members to attend key social events organized by the company. Have a forum where the board can interact with the staff. Organize a social event for board members to travel and relax.
Make it enjoyable for someone to serve on your board. Man is a social animal. You want your board to provide opportunities for networking. You could even organize an interactive session of your board with another board of a company in another sector for experience sharing and discussion. If you have two such forums annually, it could improve your board members’ networks and help share fresh perspectives and best practices.
Remember, it is ok to try new things. Even they fail, you learn. If they succeed, you learn too.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All right reserved.