Are your board meetings effective? For too many charter boards, the answer is no.
But, board meetings are important. Your full board meetings — and committee meetings in between — are where your board’s work happens.
If your meetings are ineffective, you run the risk of board member engagement dropping off. Stellar board members could leave the board because it just doesn’t feel like an effective use of their time and skills. Or, worse yet, the board could fail to provide the oversight and governance leadership it’s there to execute.
What makes board meetings ineffective?
Ineffective board meetings are usually the result of a combination of contributing factors.
It could be the operational elements, like ensuring trustees know the schedule and have the materials they need in advance. Communicating the schedule, gathering RSVPs, or creating and distributing packets in advance, all can help.
Or, it could be more of the strategic elements of board governance. Your trustees might be unclear about what they’re supposed to do — both collectively and individually.
To improve your board meetings, you’ll want to take a look at all of the following best practices.
Board meetings should be where the strategic work happens
Every board meeting should be focused on dealing with at least one strategic, policy-level issue.
Think carefully about how best to use the group’s time. Board time is precious and should be used efficiently. If the full board meets every month for two hours, that adds up to only one full day a year!
Avoid simply reporting during board meetings. Instead, committees should identify strategic issues and facilitate a board discussion around those issues.
It’s not necessary for each committee to report at each board meeting. They should report to the full board only if they’ve reached a conclusion to be shared with the board or if they wish to bring an issue to the board for a strategic discussion or vote.
The same should apply to the CEO report. The CEO’s report should not dominate the boards’ time together. This is a time for the trustees to contribute to strategic discussions, or learn and ask questions about what they need to understand in order to hold a vote.
To be efficient and effective, help board members show up prepared
An advance packet of information should be sent out before every board meeting.
Board members should come to the meetings having read the advanced materials, which typically provide background and context for the strategic issues to be discussed.
Typically, too much board time is wasted explaining facts and figures. Providing these in advance allows the group to start the discussion with the same information and to focus on the strategic.
We know how time-consuming it can seem to be to put together a packet for each meeting, each month — let alone to ensure people receive and read their packets. Learn how BoardOnTrack makes this simple.