Good communication is a key part of keeping board members informed and engaged. It keeps activities organized, goals on target and members accountable. A board that lacks proper communication policies and channels risks falling short on duties.
In early 2015, we conducted a nationwide survey to collect board communication best practices (among other management topics). Below, we outline a few pointers shared.
Related content: Download the Board Management Tips and Tricks guide for a full look at what your peers had to say.
1. Create Consistency and Establish Processes
This was commonly citied advice among survey respondents. Communication consistency sets a precedent for expectations, and loops members in on daily activities and goals. To promote consistency, thoroughly document board member communication processes:
- Create standardized naming mechanisms for files and documents.
- Set best practices for each communication channel—i.e. how to best utilize the subject line of an email.
- Document how board members should approach specific communication use cases—i.e. when to have an in-person meeting versus sending an email.
2. Make Communications Count
Agenda-less meetings can result in poor attendance, disengaged members and ultimately unmet board responsibilities. Every meeting should have a purpose, and be focused on results and pertinent decisions.
One way to do this is by sending materials ahead of time. This saves time as the agenda isn’t debated at the meeting, and members can come prepared to dive in and discuss. One survey respondent explained it this way:
“[It lets] them know that I understand they are busy and, as such, they will receive a board packet one week in advance of the meeting. They are expected to review, call me and ask any questions prior to the board meeting and be ready to discuss the action items listed on the agenda.”
3. Solicit Feedback
Feedback is a crucial element of a good communication system, providing the insight needed to re-engage board members and tweak processes for maximum effectiveness.
To improve feedback collection:
- Tie feedback collection strategies to goals. Identify the information you seek based on board goals.
- Promote open communication. Encourage honesty in feedback sessions.
- Activate ideas derived from feedback. Put the gathered information to use. It’s not enough just to listen. Responses must be transformed into action.
Related content: Listen Up! Tips to Improve Board Feedback Collection
Are you looking to better your board’s communication processes? See what else your peers had to say on the matter in our free guide: Board Management Tips & Tricks.
Image Source: Nguyen Hung Vu via Flickr