Implementing best practice
Building board diversity
Overcoming fear of social media
Dealing with non-performing board members
Using technology effectively
For each challenge, they’ve suggested a solution.
Challenge #1: Implementing best practice
Adopting effective board governance practices – whether board education, composition or others – is a common challenge. Since board members meet infrequently and are typically busy people with many other responsibilities, you can assume that the board and its rules of governance simply aren’t top of mind for members much of the time. And without consistent engagement, these practices don’t become routine.
Educating board members is a marathon not a sprint. Provide members with information on best practices and then have each member take a turn presenting one new concept or practice at each meeting. We all learn best when we have to use new information right away, so asking board members to take responsibility for the ‘teaching’ role will help new practices stick.
Challenge #2: Building Board diversity
Ethnic and gender diversity is a key issue for virtually every board. Research shows that the greater a board’s diversity, the better the organisation performs as a whole. One reason could be that groups with diverse members are more innovative and better at solving complex problems.
Diversity is not only about demographics. Organisations first need to determine the skills and expertise they need on the board – for example, finance, advocacy, youth, technology and then find diverse candidates with those skills.
Challenge #3: Overcoming fear of social media
Is your board a bit fearful of social media and the powers it can unleash? That’s common because platforms like Facebook and Twitter can amplify angry voices along with more moderate ones.
The best approach isn’t to cringe but to engage. Realise that social media feedback can help board members make better choices so begin to embrace it and broaden your impact. Organisations that recognise and use the power of the public voice will out-perform their peers, especially when the board is about to make a big decision.
There is good evidence that when a board involves the public in a tough decision – resulting in different perspectives – the organisation ends up with a more grounded, more nuanced more complete picture of the situation.
Challenge #4: Dealing with non-performing board members
If there’s one question I get consistently asked, it’s this one.
The article describes software that facilitates anonymous board peer assessments providing data that identifies where a board member requires development or should step aside. Independent consultants can similarly facilitate anonymous assessments and provide rich analysis to identify whether director development will be adequate or a need for the Chair to request the director to step aside.
Challenge #5: Using technology effectively
Smaller boards in particular are often reluctant to explore technology, fearing the cost and learning curve. They often fail to realise that there are solid tools available for non-profits of any size, and some are low cost – less than hiring a staff member in fact.
Investigate technology that’s available to help the board with its own processes and also that provides the board with more in-depth information and analysis.