Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Two Tools for Improving Communication

In the last blog, we noted the ECFA 2012 Governance Survey conducted in August 2012, where board chairs shared the “single greatest need” of their ministries. Today, we’ll zero in on one theme mentioned frequently in the 625 responses from board members.
One board member wrote, “To be more informed between meetings. The board chair meets weekly with the CEO but does not communicate with board members.”

Here are two tools to address the communication challenge:

Tool #1: Reader or Listener?
Determine the communication style for each board member (and the CEO). Ask each board member whether he or she would prefer receiving information in written form or in audio form.  Readers comprehend more when information is delivered in written form. Listeners comprehend more when the communication is in audio form.

While segmenting board member communication preferences into these two categories may sound challenging, think what it could do if communication improved dramatically!
Written board reports will bless your readers. Audio reports (a simple audio recording of the material read by the CEO, then sent via email) will bless the listeners. Many of the telephone conference call services also offer recording options so your CEO can record a monthly “CEO Update” and then email the link to all the board members. You may prefer to also add video to your audio.

Tool #2: CEO’s 5/15 Monthly Report to the Board
I encourage CEOs to email or mail a monthly CEO Report to board members. Some boards prefer a report twice a month. Pat Clements, the president of Church Extension Plan, introduced me to the concept of the “5/15” report. It’s brilliant!

Using a standard monthly report template (which the executive assistant or VP prepares for the CEO), the CEO can then edit the report and add a story or ministry highlight—all in about 15 minutes.  The written report (with an attached audio file) can be emailed monthly and the board member will have a succinct, but informative CEO Update that can be read in just five minutes—hence the “5/15” report: 15 minutes to write and 5 minutes to read!

QUESTION: Has your board agreed on the template and standing topics that your CEO should report on each month (and the report frequency)?  If you have never talked about it, add this topic to the agenda for the next meeting—and perhaps bring a sample of your own customized “5/15” board report.

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