Thursday, April 19, 2012

7 Questions to Measure Your Board’s Engagement Level

Of the four phases of board member recruitment (cultivation, recruitment, orientation and engagement), the most critical is engagement.  You’re just going through the motions if you stop at phase three.

So how effective is your board at engaging both new and current board members in their governance roles of fostering kingdom advancement—to the glory of God?  Here are seven questions for measuring your board’s level of engagement. 

Give your board a rating from Strongly Agree (5) to Strongly Disagree (1):

1) We have a board culture of “dating” after the wedding! We have very clear expectations of both new and current board members so they engage deeply in their governance roles.
2) We are a “learning board.” We encourage members to be life-long learners and to be continually sharpening their governance competencies with a variety of governance resources and training.
3) We know and leverage “The 3 Powerful S’s” (Spiritual Gifts, Strengths and Styles) of our board members. We are also students of our CEO’s unique strengths and giftedness—and his/her preferred working style.
4) We align our governance work with our ministry’s mission, vision, core values and strategic planning process—seeing these foundational pillars as the key to engagement. We are accountable for results!
5) We seek to enhance our working relationships—building trust and giving grace. We care about each other.  Outside of board meetings, we pray for each other and bear each other’s burdens. (Gal. 6:2)
6) We challenge each other to be “steward leaders” not “owner leaders.” We hold our roles and board terms loosely—bringing honor to God, not ourselves. When it’s time to exit the board, we exit!
7) We can point, with delight, to numerous examples of how God-honoring board members—fully engaged—have leveraged their giftedness to help us make strategic, fork-in-the-road, spiritually discerning decisions to the glory of God!

Question: What is your most critical next step in the next 90 days to inspire board members to be more fully engaged in their governance roles?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hooey Alerts!

In recent weeks, we’ve been discussing the best practices for the four phases of board member recruitment (cultivation, recruitment, orientation and engagement).

Michael E. Batts has recently written a helpful resource on this subject, Board Member Orientation: The Concise and Complete Guide to Nonprofit Board Service. (Order from ECFA.)

In the book, Batts mentions this humorous caveat for readers: “When nonprofit board members and leaders do seek information about the world of nonprofit board governance, one unfortunate result is that the information they receive is often wrong. Occasionally in this book, I have inserted ‘Hooey Alerts!’ to warn the reader of misinformation that is commonly related to the topic at hand.”

His book lists 10 subjects that should be covered in an orientation process: Legal Authority & Responsibility, Proper Role of the Board, Board Committees, Risk Management, Financial Matters, Governing & Policy Documents, Liability of Board Members, Understanding, Evaluating and Protecting Mission, Board Meeting Dynamics, and Organization-Specific Information.

In addition, I ask boards if they can answer “Strongly Agree” to these five statements:

#1. We have a written New Board Member Orientation process—and it’s clear who is responsible for bringing new members up-to-speed.
#2. We have an up-to-date New Board Member Orientation Notebook.
#3. After the orientation, our new board members have a good grasp of our Mission, Vision, Core Values, and strategic planning process—and can articulate our organization’s answers to The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization (the book and process by Peter Drucker).
#4. Our orientation process includes required reading of at least one governance book, such as The Imperfect Board Member, by Jim Brown, or Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask, by Ram Charan.
#5. Our orientation process involves at least 5 to 10 hours of orientation, over a period of several months, and concludes with a written or online feedback survey. We also focus on how our board, as a team, spiritually discerns God's direction for our ministry.

Question: How does your orientation process measure up?  Would anyone issue a “Hooey Alert!” for your new board member orientation?