What creates effective Board meetings? Here’s five guiding principles: 1) Right mix of expertise; 2) Agreed rules of engagement; 3) Well-designed agendas; 4) Good preparation; and 5) Effective facilitation.
Business owners often overlook the value of Board meetings because they are too operationally-focused. However, effective Board meetings provide the overarching framework for developing a great business. Last week I chaired the first Board meeting for a client as part of their rollup process into a new group. And we started to apply these five principles to create an effective Board meeting.
1. Right mix of expertise
Before you form a Board, give some thought to the type of expertise you’ll need. As a minimum, you’ll need Board members with industry knowledge, financial literacy, and skills in marketing, HR, IT and legal. Also consider an external Chair who has no conflict of interest. This enables the Chair to act in the best interests of the business and be impartial when making decisions, especially in the event of deadlock.
2. Agreed rules of engagement
For effective Board meetings, you need consensus about how to communicate and interact with each other as a Board. Ideally, these behaviours should reflect the values of your business and be formalised into a Board Charter. Then you are able to hold each other accountable for boardroom behaviour, especially when disagreement or conflict occurs.
3. Well-designed agendas
Effective Board meetings have the right number of agenda items. Develop agendas aligned with the objectives and priorities for your business. Work closely with the management team to identify issues and initiatives for Board consideration. Prioritise agenda items in terms of importance and urgency. Ensure sufficient time is allocated to reach a decision. If an agenda item is important but not urgent, reschedule it for another time.
4. Good preparation
There is simply no excuse for Board members turning up to meetings unprepared. Meeting technology makes planning and preparing for Board meetings easy. You can upload relevant discussion papers and reports well ahead of the meeting to give Boards members the opportunity to review and analyse. More importantly, you can record, notify, and remind Board members of motions, resolutions and actions.
5. Effective facilitation
Well-facilitated meetings bring out the best from Board members and enable proactive and constructive thinking and decision-making. A good Chair is able to effectively engage members in discussions, encourage different points of views, challenge assumptions, and find common ground.
Obviously, there is a lot more to running effective Board meetings. But start with these five principles and you’ll be surprised.
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