One of the challenges of serving on a board is that you must work effectively with your fellow board members and CEO, but you only really get to work with them when you meet. Because you are not regularly working with each other, it becomes imperative that you create strong relationships and have effective meetings. Board meetings are the place where decisions are made and the fate of the company is often decided. By our estimation, there are three components of an effective board meeting.
1. Verifying Alliance
Verifying alliance is just a fancy way of saying that you reestablish the bond among directors. You make sure everyone is feeling safe, valued, and engaged. You do this by paying attention to your own emotions as well as others. Are you sensing any distance? Because board meetings often only take place once a quarter or once a month, a lot can happen in between and there is a ton of time for miscommunication. Verifying alliance is a way to take a moment and bring everyone back together. Get everyone back on the same emotional page. We have developed tools to help verify alliance. One way to get everyone is to take a beat by addressing the emotional hang ups that we all face. Take a breath or a pause in a moment of a disconnection and reflect what happened. Describing the steps provides time to get your balance and to recognize moments when the disconnection happened.
2. Processing the Content
Processing the content refers to setting and agreeing on the company strategy. This is the meat of the session – looking through financials, pouring over operations, and dealing with compliance issues. Is the company being run according to the overarching strategy? Answering this question is the end goal of the board meeting. To process content you can bring in experts from different parts of the company to explain the fine procedural details. Have the head of operations present on any new initiatives they are taking, give HR an opportunity to explain hiring, firing, and compliance issues. These may seem like small potatoes, but they are all part of the same stew. It is essential to make sure the company is running the way you have intended.
3. Reaffirming Congruence
Reaffirming congruence brings the mission and the vision to the forefront of the decision making process. Going over the mission and vision at the start of the meeting is a good way to verify alliance and reaffirm congruence at the same time. It is much easier to make strategic decisions with the mission and vision guiding your board. You also want to go over any goals and the core values. When the discussion gets heated, you can always fall back on these principles to bring everyone back to the same place emotionally. Take a moment to reflect on current strategy as well – does it still align with your company values? It is important to ask this question as it is so easy to diverge from the mission and vision in the name of cutting costs or increasing profit margins. This really is the purpose of the board – to keep the company aligned with the mission and vision.
Every board meeting that has these three components is guaranteed to have a more effective outcome. By verifying alliance, processing content, and reaffirming congruence, directors give a strong focus to the meeting that would otherwise be fleeting. At your next board meeting, take a moment to go over these three components and work with your fellow directors to implement them. If you would like more information on running effective board meetings, or any of the three components, please contact [email protected].