Ambiguity the culprit when things go awry – Part III

A reminder what we’re all about as we reach the halfway mark in our crusade towards clarity – we’re listing those topics that should form part of and be dealt with in detail in a Board Charter.

Section Eight takes us to ‘Board Skills and Diversity’, where the charter will list the skills and diversity the board requires if it is to meet the organisation’s strategic needs.

To arrive at this list, we’ll first need to identify the skills we’d require to have the ideal board.  By comparing them with those already brought to the board by the existing members, we’ll soon see where the gaps are – information that will become very important when replacing a member who suddenly resigns or planning for succession.

Sections Nine and Ten, although standalone, carry pretty similar information and are both self-explanatory. The former is the ‘Chairperson’s Position Description’, the latter the ‘Board Member Position Description’.

Detailed descriptions will help the person to be clear about expectations, including time commitments, and a good example of these sections is attached to this blog. Non Executive Board Member Position Description

Moving on to the ‘Board Code of Conduct’ covered in Section Eleven, here we find the codification of the rules of being on a board, essentially how to conduct yourself; while in the next section, the focus switches to ‘Conflict of Interest’ and offers a policy on how, if and when they arrive, conflicts of interest will be treated, how disclosures will be made and how a register will be kept.

‘Board Member Inductions’ is the subject matter for Section Thirteen, providing new members with a detailed explanation of what they need to go through, what they need to spend time on. The section, while valuable, should be viewed as a good starting point rather than the Holy Grail as it can only contain part of what’s required.

In Section Fourteen, entitled ‘Board Member Ongoing Development’, we capture the education programs and professional development sessions members are entitled to attend to be the best they can – for the sad truth is that being on a board does not mean one knows everything about everything!

The section will note what budget is dedicated to this exercise.

Moving on, Section Fifteen looks at ‘Board Member Disqualification from Office’, which spells out the law as it relates to serving on a board.

It is clear and unambiguous – if you happen to do such and such or perform in a certain manner, you will be required to step down from the board. No surprises, no tears.

The final section we’ll look at in this blog deals with what can, if not handled correctly, be a rather prickly area – ‘Board Member and Staff Relationships’.

It’s a very important section with very important information.

And it is there to stop what happens – unfortunately too often – in organisations such as local government, where an elected member has no compunction when it comes to making contact with members of staff and telling them what to do.

That’s taboo for board members – elected members, too – as they have no authority to tell staff members what to do.

For while the aim must always be to have good relations between the board, the CEO and management, it is imperative that all such approaches are made through the chair or the CEO.

Until next time,

Kate.

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