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Strategies to improve board attendance

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With a wealth of experience in the sector, Bowman has developed 11 strategies to improve attendance, as outlined below:

1. Restructure the board agenda so that it reflects the key elements of the strategic plan.

2. Develop a staff report section at every second or third board meeting where a staff member verbally reports to the board on the strategic issues facing their area of responsibility. As part of this section, the staff member is questioned by board members regarding these strategic issues.

3. Recast all reports from CEO, staff and committees so they directly relate back to the strategic plan, identify the key strategic issues and discussion points, and provide ranges of options.

4. Include “Changes to Strategic Environment” as a standard section in the board agenda as a discussion segment of the board meeting. This is an opportunity to discuss any major changes, shifts or trends we need to be aware of that might impact on our strategic assumptions.

5. Develop guest speaker sessions to support the board. This might include presentations from other CEOs of similar organisations, funding bodies or academics.

6. Consider developing part of the board meeting as an in-camera session (without staff) to discuss matters of board performance, individual directors’ issues and any other issue where it would not be desirable to have a staff member present.

7. Ensure your Chair has the required chairing skills. Consider implementing a regular review by the board – every 6 months – of the Chair’s skills and their effect as Chair.

8. Conduct an annual review of the board, where you evaluate board functions and what can be improved.

9. Provide external accountability through the annual report, annual general meeting and stakeholder engagement strategies, including reporting meeting attendance and how the skills of the board members are matched to the strategic needs of the organisation.

10. Develop a formal mentor system for new board members to facilitate understanding of issues, including what constitutes board and management matters and why, and the decision making processes utilised to make those determinations.

11. Don’t let non-attendance go on! Deal with it now.

Bowman is a director of ‘LifeMastery’ and Conscious-Governance.com.

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