It is true that many organisations fail not because they don’t have a great product or service to sell its just that the leadership leaves a lot to be desired. Over the years I have sat as either a Director or Chairperson of any number of both public and private sector boards and when you have an ineffective board you have poorly executed strategy and sometimes a rudderless organisation.
More often than not we get the board make up wrong because we are not completely sure what we want the board to actually do – in other words when you unpack the failure of many organisations it comes down to having the wrong people involved or the right people at the wrong time.
So, here are seven tips to keep in mind when recruiting your next board members:
Map out the specific skills you need: depending on the type of your organisation (public / private / NGO) you will need specific skills at different points of time therefore map out what you need now versus what you will potentially need as your strategy unfolds. For example, there is no point having three lawyers on the same board when what you really need is someone to provide strategic legal advice, someone who know how to raise capital and someone who can help you with communications strategies. In other words, identify a skills matrix that will be most relevant to you. An ideal board should have someone who knows where to find money, a person who has legal experience, one who knows about marketing and communications and someone who knows about governance and operations. Other key skills to recruit for may include those who understand government policy and regulations and others who may know how to develop and execute social media strategies
Be clear on your strategy and purpose: if you are not clear on what you want the organisation to do then you can hardly be clear when trying to recruit potential board members. Make sure you are very clear up front about the goals and aspirations of the organisation and, therefore, how that connects with the actual skills and experience of the board member you are trying to recruit – if you know, they know and if the know then the job becomes easier
Recruit those with experience: be very clear, if you are a start-up or a not for profit organisation you really should go with people who can already demonstrate experience. Why is experience important? Well, you’re not in it to be trainer are you? Board meetings and work can quickly be bogged down by people asking questions because of a lack of knowledge and experience
The role of the Chair: when recruiting a chairperson you want to ensure that whoever he or she is that they are well known either from a national or industry perspective. This is important because it will provide your organisation with additional credibility. They, like the CEO or MD will be the front face of an organisation so it’s important to go with a known and not an unknown.
Put in place a Job Description: when you have gone through the process of identifying what you want and why (in terms of skills etc) then take an additional few hours and put it all down into a job description. The great thing about job descriptions is they make the roles and responsibilities of board members very clear!
Time limit appointments: various organisational guidelines and constitutions stipulate the timeline of director appointments – you need to follow them because all directors are relevant at certain points in an organisations development. The skills you need today may not be what you need in five years – this means every 24 months you should get the board together and plan out where to next in terms of board activities and skills. Board turnover is something many organisations are unprepared for!
Performance manage! In terms of attracting great talent it may mean developing incentive schemes. This is very much the case when it comes to private or listed companies where it could be possible to design equity share offerings and business ownership. Whatever the incentive you need to have some kind of performance framework or review process in place.
It is so very true that the making of a good organisation comes to leadership and often that leadership is driven by an effective board.
Get the front end preparation work done before you go out and recruit potential board members and all of the above will ensure your pitch to bring them on your journey with you is clear and concise!
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