How to Better Engage Your Board

By Stan Graves

If you are a business owner who has taken the steps to engage an advisory board, it’s a safe bet that you have invited them to help you because you believe they bring valuable skills and information to your business.

This means you are probably paying them to be on your board, and it’s a waste of your money and everyone’s time to not take advantage of the skill sets you have recruited. This is why engaging your board is so important.

In any business, there are needs that are going unmet by owners, partners or staff, so you are inviting board members to advise you. That’s how it should work, and if it’s done well the value is well worth what you pay.

I’ve been on a variety of boards for years, and myself and others like me have made every mistake you can think of. We’d like to help keep you from making them too. Start with these 5 tips on how to better engage your board.

  1. Focus on the orientation process. Educate your board in the early days of the operation about what your business does, what your aspirations for your business are and what you think your critical needs are. Think of it like an early SWOT analysis. If you have a good board, someone has dealt with the same issues you have.
  2. Be honest. When it comes to needs and weakness, you have to be honest. It’s important to open up and not only talk about the good stuff, but also talk about where your weaknesses are because that’s where you’re trying to solve the problems. If you hide the problems, you won’t be able to have effective input from the board.
  3. Build professional relationships. You don’t necessarily need to be best friends with your board members, but having some sort of personal relationship is crucial. You need to fully understanding what experiences and skill sets each board member brings. You also need to know how they operate. Some are very quiet, while others are more vocal. You will need to engage each of those board members differently.
  4. Utilize resources every day of the year. Most boards meet 3-4 times a year, but if you know your board member well enough, they can be a resource 365 days a year. If you have that relationship, you won’t be hesitant to pick up the phone. Your issue may not rise to a full board issue, but that individual member may be able to help. I have had this happen hundreds of times over my career, and it’s a very effective way of utilizing your time and your board member’s time.
  5. Don’t waste time, talent or money.  Avoid this mistake by doing the following:
    • Focusing on strategy, not tactics in your board meetings.
    • Be disciplined on agendas and follow-through.
    • Utilize technology that improves communications and collaboration while saving paper, postage and the environment. Boards are rapidly moving to board software like Directorpoint to streamline board administration and improve board engagement and effectiveness.

For more information about Directorpoint, contact service@directorpoint.com.

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