What Every Director Serving on a Board Should Know About Teamwork
Differing perspectives on a board can lead to conflict and stagnation, but they can also help to create more refined solutions. Listening to the opinions of others and carefully analyzing those opinions can sharpen the best ideas as well as tie up loose ends. This back and forth discussion are often accompanied by constructive criticism and feedback which can be difficult to digest for any member of the board. Though it may be hard at times to fully absorb a perspective that differs from your own, there are still many tips and tricks you can incorporate into your thinking to develop those skills.
Good Directors Listen to Understand
Actively listening involves taking notes during meetings and being present in the moment. Encourage members to share their perspectives and make them feel like their voices are valuable. By asking questions and occasionally repeating what was spoken, the speaker can feel heard while you as a listener can guarantee that your comprehension of the subject was sufficient. Listening can also result in reaching a goal such as a successful vote. This goal cannot be met unless the listeners are truly engaged with the speakers and vice versa. This act of listening should also be done with a clear mind, free of distractions and interruptions. Due to the limited time allotted to a board meeting, members should focus on being present mentally for every discussion. Active listening also includes small gestures such as a nod or eye contact to show the speaker that you are present. This action of active listening serves as a prerequisite to the next section of carefully considering all different perspectives on a board. The information must be properly received to process through the many perspectives and opinions within a board.
Good Directors Place Themselves in Other’s Shoes.
Don’t allow your own opinions to drown out what is being discussed. Be careful of letting your perspective occupy too much space in your mind. The goal of the discussion should be to learn and come to a productive conclusion instead of settling on personal agendas that only benefit a select few. As a listener, you should also be aware of your motivations during a meeting and what you would like to accomplish as well as your board’s. When coming in with an agenda, listeners can spend their entire time thinking of a rebuttal to what is being shared instead of fully using their energy to understand the idea. When dealing with numerous opinions, it can be helpful to take detailed notes that allow you to organize and differentiate the ideas in front of you. Also, this more tangible way of visualizing all ideas can provide a structure to filter out the good and bad aspects of each idea. By temporarily setting your perspective aside and attempting to become more flexible, you may better comprehend the differing perspectives of the board and focus your attention solely on the most productive decision for the team.
Good Directors Have Honest and Open Communication
Encourage an environment of honesty and openness while allowing for constructive criticism. Be aware of how much you are speaking in comparison to how much others are participating. Try to maintain a balanced ratio of speaking to listening so that everyone gets their turn. Waiting until others are done speaking to begin speaking will also demonstrate the level of respect and importance that you place in this environment. At times, overly prepared questions can appear disrespectful as they were formulated to immediately stop an idea from forming. When receiving feedback, ask for a clear explanation of the details that should be adjusted to better suit the board’s intentions. Thank others for weighing in on a proposed idea as they had to exert time and energy in improving your solution. For all differing perspectives on a board to feel welcomed, this aspect serves as an especially important foundation.
The need for better collaboration and communication is essential as meetings shift from in-person board meetings to virtual board meetings. Staring at a screen can be monotonous and with the constant ability to check other tabs while in a meeting, communicating effectively can become quickly diminished. By keeping the camera on and maintaining physical cues such as eye contact and head nods, the speakers can get a sense that others are listening and engaged. Meeting virtually requires extra attention which will consequently require increased effort to be intentional and participate effectively.
Director Access to Board Documents
One of the main responsibilities of a director is good governance. A key component to good governance is having access to governance documents—Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and Bylaws Archives, Board Policies, Board Packets, Meeting Transcripts, Minutes & Resolutions, and Board of Directors’ meeting dates. Using a board portal, like Board Director, is a great exercise in teamwork.
7 Fast Ways a Board Portal Can Help:
- Management can upload financial reports, management reports, and any legal documents.
- Directors can review, sign, and assure submission of annual reports in a board portal is more secure than email.
- Reviewing and authorizing personnel policies relevant to hiring, promotion, dismissal, compensation, whistleblowers, independent contractors, key employees, sexual harassment, and fairness to the disabled and other groups.
- Create committees and add consultants.
- Write policy and review status of its own membership for independence, conflict of interest, self-dealing, competence, performance of duties, and compensation
- RSVP and track attendance to comply with state requirements for a quorum
- Keep accurate records of its activities.
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