Are Your Board Meetings Effective?

12Oct

Are Your Board Meetings Effective?

How to make your board meeting more productive

Many board meetings are actually “bored” meetings. Leadership brings together their board members only to quickly present the material so they can get back to their “real” work. Without realizing it, you’re doing the company a disservice as the value of your board, if you have the right people, can be a tremendous source of insight and solid advice. The board’s job is to review the company’s financial performance and strategy and help provide counsel to the executive team. It’s up to you to manage them effectively.

Some boards are highly functional, many are not. Sometimes dysfunctional boards are a result of having investors who don’t really understand their role on the board or have the right skills or experiences to be helpful. Sometimes poorly run boards are a function of the executive team not knowing how to get the most out their boards.

To follow are some thoughts on how to make your interactions with your board more productive.

Communicate Frequently and Proactively

Do you wait until the actual meeting to correspond with the board? We advise that you send the board short, to the point, update emails at least monthly, especially if you meet quarterly or even less frequently. This keeps the board in-the-loop and does not give them the opportunity to come to their own conclusions about what is going on. Plus, you will be top-of-mind to people that matter and they will feel comfortable advocating on your behalf. Discussions Versus Presentations Many board meetings become really long slideshow presentations where management takes the board through pages and pages of financial results and plans. Send the presentation ahead of the meeting and instead use the time to have an open discussion on the key points.

Do you wait until the actual meeting to correspond with the board?

We advise that you send the board short, to the point, update emails at least monthly, especially if you meet quarterly or even less frequently. This keeps the board in-the-loop and does not give them the opportunity to come to their own conclusions about what is going on. Plus, you will be top-of-mind to people that matter and they will feel comfortable advocating on your behalf. Discussions Versus Presentations Many board meetings become really long slideshow presentations where management takes the board through pages and pages of financial results and plans. Send the presentation ahead of the meeting and instead use the time to have an open discussion on the key points. Your goal should be to have open dialogue with your board and take advantage of their expertise and experience.

Distribute Financial Information Prior to the Meeting

Financial information should be sent out 72 hours before a board meeting. If you send it out the night before, you’re practically guaranteed that it will not be read before that morning’s meeting. Remember, these are busy people too. Focus on Solving Strategic Issues Instead of wasting your time walking the board through financial information they should already be familiar with it. Spend your time walking through a few key decisions you’re trying to make and get their input on the topic. Set this expectation up front and your meeting will be more targeted towards results. Boards will only discuss the information you provide them and will mostly get off track if your agenda or your management style allows them to.

A Call Before the Meeting

If possible, have a quick call a day or two prior to the meeting with key members who will be reporting. This ensures you are up-to-date and onboard with what they will be presenting. This also helps you to create the agenda. Never be surprised at a board meeting. If you’re surprised at a board meeting it’s on you.

They Talk the Talk, Are They Walking the Walk?

Many things get decided at board meetings. If you took away actions — follow up. If a board member agreed to do something, hold them accountable. As with most meetings, much progress is squandered by lack of follow up. Lack of follow-up could put a real damper on progress and the board members who are living up to their promise on a particular task will become frustrated.

Meet in Person When Possible

There are times when you need to offer some board members the option to call-in to a meeting. That’s fine every now and then, but that usually results in people falling off the call, or becoming distracted. There is no way they’re as productive when it’s just voice. Also, having a well-functioning team with a high degree of trust in each other and confidence in each other’s opinions is critical to a successful board. And you simply can’t build relationships on the phone.

No Cell Phones Please

Help them be their best selves by banning electronic devices if you want a productive meeting. Schedule a 15-minute break in the middle of your meeting and inform people that there will be sufficient time to check in on their email during the break. Obviously, there are exceptions if they have something mission critical going on that might pull them away. But this should be the exception, not the rule.

Be Realistic With the Time Needed for a Meeting

If you’re trying to “get through your deck” and get back to work, then an hour is plenty. If you truly want input, discussions and relationships, schedule accordingly. Build Social Relationships Amongst Your Board Members We’re all so busy, but at least once or twice a year, schedule something that is purely social. We find it’s effective to hold a board meeting prior to the “social event” as they’re already together as a group.

Boards take work. But the best boards are super critical to your success and you get out of them what you put in.

If you have any questions about forming a board, or making the one you have even better, please feel free to schedule a consultation with one of the outstanding attorney’s at The Orlando Law Group PL.

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