Archive for June, 2010

>The Managing-Up Kit – how CEOs can work more effectively with their boards (part 1)

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For an organisation to run most effectively, the CEO needs a sound working relationship with their board. Boards by their nature have a number of features which need careful attention from management:

  • Boards must produce collaborative decisions and results derived from a number of individuals with different skills and backgrounds
  • Directors usually have other jobs, and do not touch the organisation on a frequent basis
  • Directors face particular, and sometimes stringent, legal duties and obligations

 

This blog series provides a number of suggestions and tools to help CEOs develop productive relationships with their boards.

 

Managing the board

If your board is comprised of part-time, or “non-executive” directors, there are some important factors you need to bear in mind as a CEO or senior executive, to ensure that you have the most productive relationship possible with the board.

Because of the intrinsic nature of their interaction with the organisation, non-executive directors generally do not touch it or its business or operations on a regular basis

There are two major consequences which flow from this irregular interaction:

  • You cannot assume that directors will remember in detail what has happened in previous board meetings or strategy retreats. It is usually helpful to give a quick recap or summary of what has been previously discussed or decided by the board before launching into any new stage. When preparing reports or presentations, it is simple enough to commence with something like: “Directors will recall that at the last board meeting, it was agreed that there were three important factors to be taken into account [then list them], and it was decided to take the following actions [then summarise them]”
  • Because of their intermittent touches of the organisation, non-executive directors form impressions, fairly or not, on the basis of the occasional things they see or hear which affect them personally, or push one of their particular individual hot buttons. It is useful to draw on your observations of the board generally, and directors individually, to identify particular hot spots they might have. You will then be in a better position to minimize the chance for any unproductive interactions. For instance, lawyers on the board (like me, sadly) are likely to react adversely to typos; accountants generally don’t like to see numbers that don’t add up. Give yourself a head start by eliminating avoidable errors.



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