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June 2, 2022

Board Recruitment and Effective Onboarding

 

How to Recruit New Board Members and Tips for a Successful Onboarding Process

As Boards of Directors are expected to take a more active and deliberate role in the organization’s success, it’s crucial to keep your board running as efficiently as possible.

One common occurrence that can derail a board’s effectiveness is the need to replace board members, and the time-consuming onboarding process that comes with selecting a new board member. There are many reasons a member would need to be replaced, including

  • They could prove an ineffectual member of the board.
  • They’re not engaged with other board members or board business.
  • Their obstructive behavior decreases the board’s productivity.
  • They have a new or revealed conflict of interest.
  • They’ve engaged in unethical behavior, or behavior that’s contradictory to the company’s values.
  • A board member chooses to leave a board.
  • A board member’s term (as outlined in the bylaws) comes to an end.
  • A board member passes away.

To help ensure replacing a board member doesn’t have a negative effect on the board’s overall performance, you should maintain a running list of potential candidates to join your board. Having a pipeline of candidates on deck—potential members who you’re sure will add distinct value to the board—will help facilitate a smooth transition.

  • Reach out to Investors for Recommendations
    • Your investors are just that—invested. Their combination of experience and skin in the game makes them great resources for identifying potential board members who would add to your board’s effectiveness.
  • Find a Recruitment Network
    • Find a recruitment network like boardprospects.com.
    • New technology platforms allow boards to go way beyond their network to find talent. These networks can also streamline the process of a board search and evaluation. Tools are provided to contact and communicate with board prospects, as well as reports to analyze and track your corporations board recruitment efforts.
  • Establish a Search Committee
    • This committee should have a clear understanding of the very time-consuming process of vetting candidates and have a firm commitment to the process. It will be responsible for developing comprehensive candidate assessments that will include structured discussions, fall risk assessments, and background checks.
  • Ask Your Current Members
    • One of the best sources for new board members is your current board members. They know better than anyone what the duties of being a board member are, and who in their existing networks would be the best fit, both in terms of experience and personality.
  • Determine the board’s needs
    • Before you select a new board member, you need to assess what qualities or experience your board is lacking. Ask your current members what they’re looking for in a new board member.

Effectively Onboarding New Board Members

Once you’ve selected your new board member(s), it’s time to get them onboarded. Similarly to the onboarding process for a new job, the onboarding process for new board members is crucial to ensuring they have the tools they need to be valuable and productive members of your board.

  • Connect with them. Don’t forget that your Board is comprised of individual people. Make sure you get to know each member on a personal level—it will help them feel welcomed and encourage a team mentality. Additionally, you’ll be able to assess their specific strengths and experience, so you know exactly where and how they can be most valuable to the board.
  • Set them up for Success. Your new board member is going to be excited to join the board. They’re going to want to make a good first impression and to begin to make valuable contributions to the board as soon as they can. That’s why you selected them. Keep that momentum high by ensuring that your onboarding process includes everything they need to get to work. Make sure they’re familiar with
    • Who’s who on the board
    • Policies relating to the board’s responsibilities
    • What committees focus on
    • The company bylaws
    • The company values and vision
    • Recent financial reports
    • What the goals of the company are
    • Annual reports
    • The board’s yearly meeting schedule

If you’re using board management software, make sure the new member receives comprehensive training from the software company’s support staff.

  • Be Prepared for Change. New board members bring fresh experience and perspective. Make sure they’ve got a complete understanding of the company’s mission, values, and goals. And be open to any new ideas that they propose—remember, the simple fact that you’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean that’s still the best way to do it.
  • Use the Buddy System. Consider inviting current board members to act as mentors for the new members. They can ensure that the new member is up-to-speed quickly and that they understand everything that’s expected of them. Mentors make it easier for new members to be integrated into the board.
  • Develop a Board Manual. Include all the information a new board member needs in one document. Include board member contact information; the board’s mission, goals, and values; the board member job description; the history of the company; the current budget; the company bylaws; charter documents; code of conduct and ethics; board meeting attendance policy; and more.
  • Be Social. Arrange for the board to meet in person for dinner or cocktails, or some other team-building event. Getting to know their fellow board members on a personal level will help new members make connections that help them feel more comfortable and work more efficiently.
  • Continually Update the Onboarding Process. There’s always room for improvement. Ask board members what information or processes would have made their onboarding more successful and add them to the onboarding process.

Fostering a pipeline of qualified board recruitment candidates is the best way to ensure a quick replacement. You should always be looking for your next board member—someone who will bring unique perspective and experience to your board. It’s important to know what you want and need in a board member, to make the transition as smooth as possible.

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