5 Tips for Better Engagement | Aprio
August 22, 2016
Karen Peacey

Welcoming new board members: 5 tips for better engagement

Organizations often invest tons of effort in recruiting new board members but gloss over orientation. Given recruitment generally occurs year-round – directors come onto a board while it’s in state of play. You don’t want to lose board meeting productivity every time a new recruit arrives.

A little time spent onboarding new members, can pay off quickly in how effectively directors contribute in their first year. Before new directors attend their first meeting, provide a good briefing and orientation on how to prepare for and participate in Board meetings, committees and vital decisions of the organization. Director ramp up can be relatively easy, especially if you are using a board portal, here are five tips for best director engagement.

5 tips to get new director orientation right:

  1. Open up
    Executive role – Sometimes organizations try and put a very positive spin on their strengths and successes during recruitment. But a director can only contribute their breadth of expertise and experience to resolving issues if they also know an organization’s challenges. Have one or two members of the executive team meet with new directors one-on-one or as a group and share essential information about the organization’s strategic priorities, risks faced and key decisions ahead for the year. Keep this discussion consistent so same information is known by all – a reusable 5 to 10 slide presentation can keep the briefing consistent as new recruits come on.
  2. Reinforce good governance
    Executive role – It’s crucial for executives to state to new directors that they are under board obligation to behave with utmost care for privacy, confidentiality and protection of the organizations strategic goals. Outline your governance principles.
    Administrator role – The corporate secretary or executive administrator can go into details on how communication is conducted to achieve good governance. Walk through the do’s and don’ts of exactly how to communicate and operate within governance rules – such as no emailing on confidential topics, communicate through the secure board portal or no printing of key documents for travel due to loss risk.
  3. Avoid info overload, focus on access
    Administrator role – In the old paper binder days, administrators would walk through many inches of documents, flipping through tabs and explaining details leaving new directors wondering if they had taken on too much. Orient directors using your board portal focusing on where things are stored for new board members to read in their own time. Have a checklist for yourself to make sure all key board portal assets are covered from board documents, to board dates, contacts and agreement history. Note: Aprio offers this type of director training using client’s board portals – directors rave about it.
  4. Partner up
    Executive, veteran directors’ role – It’s more comfortable to ask a peer for help than the board chair. Pair up your new recruits with an experienced director for support. Ask the experienced directors to check in with new directors before and after the first two meetings, and let the veteran directors know that board portal training is offered if there’s any confusion with using your board’s technology.
  5. Follow up
    Administrator role – In the week after the first two board meetings that new director’s attend – call or email and ask if they are getting what they need in terms of preparation and participation at board meetings. Make sure they have your contact information and feel comfortable asking for help.

Have other tips for effectively engaging new directors? Please share your ideas – email us at info@aprio.net.

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