When Your Board Gets Bored

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At times, board service can be exciting, engaging, and groundbreaking. Board members might have the opportunity to lead the revitalization of a struggling company or discover new avenues for growth. Board service will occasionally feel tedious or rote, though. The truth is that being on a board involves some repetitive practices, but that doesn’t mean that directors’ eyes have to glaze over during meetings.

So how can you keep things fresh and focused on a strategic future? Here are some of our suggestions:

Don’t let the agenda become an afterthought.

We’ve shared our thoughts on creating better board agendas here, but this topic is important when it comes to keeping board meetings fresh, too. The agenda-building process should be interactive, and board members need to think critically about how to structure them from month to month. Rather than adopting a system that just rolls over after every meeting, challenge your board to create agendas that will spark new conversations.
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Noteworthy Books About Corporate Governance

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Sure, the Internet has made it easy to read bite-sized articles on all the latest trends in board membership—in fact, you’re reading one of those right now. But are you looking to take a deeper dive into the world of corporate governance? Well, we have some suggestions for you!

  1. Dear Chairman

This fascinating read by hedge fund manager and adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, Jeff Gramm, digs deep into the ever-evolving relationship between corporate directors and shareholder activists. “Gramm analyzes different eras and pivotal boardroom battles from the last century to understand the factors that have caused shareholders and management to collide. Throughout, he uses the letters to show how investors interact with directors and managers, how they think about their target companies, and how they plan to profit.”
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Dealing With a Boardroom Bully

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While many of you may have hoped that bullying behaviors ended with high school, the sad truth is that sometimes even the boardroom has a bully problem. The tactics won’t be the same as when you were growing up, but they can still cause a great deal of discomfort. Perhaps your boardroom bully constantly cuts people off when they’re speaking or refuses to put topics on the agenda. Maybe they work behind the scenes to manipulate or intimidate fellow board members. Not only can these behaviors create awkward situations, they can also have a deeply negative effect on your board’s ability to function.

So how do you handle a tricky situation like this? Here are some of our suggestions:
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Best Websites for Board-Related Education

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Let’s face it, these days the board landscape is shifting and evolving at lightning speed. It can be difficult to stay up-to-date on all the latest trends in corporate governance. At Directorpoint, we do our best to help keep you knowledgeable with our weekly newsletter, but where should you go looking for information when questions arise? We’ve compiled this helpful guide to tell you about some of the most useful board resource websites.

  1. The National Association for Corporate Directors (NACD)

NACD has been providing directors with news and educational information for more than 40 years. Although it takes a paid membership to access all of their materials, they also share articles and information frequently via social media. Their monthly magazine, Directorship, is always chock-full of valuable guidance and news-related activity in the board sphere.
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The First-Time Board Member Checklist

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Board membership is an adventure in leadership unlike any other. Individuals who are new to the role of director will be challenged in new and unique ways. In order to meet this challenge head-on, they’ll need to continually develop their expertise while adjusting to a system of checks and balances that is meant to help bring the best decisions forward.

An experienced CEO or CFO may jump into a first-time board position with a lot of confidence, and that’s a good thing! But they also need to understand the ways in which their role will differ from the internal positions they’ve held in the past. Here are some tips for making a smooth transition from business leader to board member extraordinaire.
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What Does Good Governance Look Like?

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It’s easy to talk about strengthening your board of directors, but how do you know when you’ve reached a high-functioning level of corporate governance? In this day and age, building and maintaining a successful board means checking off many different boxes. As the role of the corporate director continues to expand and technology keeps leaping forward, board members should take the time to reflect on their impact as individuals and as a group. Here are some signs that your board is thriving:

  1. Directors have a firm understanding of their responsibilities.

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Building the Bridge Between Boards & CEOs

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Board members and CEOs may serve different purposes in an organization, but with the right working relationship, they can help take a company to new heights. Creating a strong bond between these two entities takes time, focus, and mutual respect, but once it’s been created, the connection can be the difference between a company that just gets by and one that excels.

When it comes to getting the most out of the board to CEO relationship, here are our suggestions:

  1. CEOs should interact with board members individually and as a group. 

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Directorpoint CTO Recognized As Outstanding Tech Innovator

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We’re proud to announce that our very own Chief Technology Officer, Trey McMeans, was recently named a “Rising Star of Tech and Innovation” by the Birmingham Business Journal. The BBJ points out that the awardees are individuals who are expected to “lead the charge…in taking Birmingham’s innovation economy to the next level.”

Prior to joining Directorpoint, McMeans was the CEO and founder of a SaaS company called GreekStudy. The GPS-enabled, academic hours-tracking application acquired over 1,000 clients across the country and experienced exceptional success under his leadership and guidance. In 2016, McMeans sold the company in order to focus on full-time CTO leadership at Directorpoint.
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Managing a Board With Vacant Seats

Board seat vacancies

Inevitably, the time will come when your board has one or more empty seats to fill. For boards that are already small in number, having vacancies can cause some strain, but don’t panic; unless your bylaws mandate a quorum that you cannot meet, your board should be able to continue operating normally until the seats are filled. However, there are some stressors you may encounter along the way. Here are some helpful tips for confronting them.

1. An even number of directors creates a tie vote.

Perhaps, your board typically has 10 members plus a board chairperson for tie-breaking votes. What happens if you’re down one member, and the vote splits? Obviously, if your bylaws dictate a procedure for a tie vote, be sure to follow it. If you have no process already in place, your best option is to revisit discussion on the issue at hand and vote again. If the vote comes out the same, consider enlisting the opinion of an outside expert. This individual would not cast a vote, but they could bring more information to the table, which could help shift the overall vote counts.
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Peer Reviews in the Boardroom

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Many organizations view board member peer reviews as one of the most relevant ways to gauge effectiveness and to work to change any negative behaviors occurring in the boardroom. Peer reviews can, however, be very tricky evaluations to administer since they carry a strong element of critique. While yearly board evaluations are required for all NYSE-listed companies, peer reviews are not mandatory. Before choosing to implement peer reviews, board members should discuss the potential value that they would bring to their processes and decide collectively whether or not to implement their use.

If your board does feel that peer reviews will provide significant boardroom insight, here are our suggestions for how to go about administering and utilizing them.
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