By Rachel Owen, communications manager
One of the great things about working for an AMC (association management company) is being able to tap into the personal strengths and unique experiences of the other association management professionals within the company. At IMI, we encourage this benefit by intentionally scheduling brainstorming meetings to share ideas across the account teams.
Recently, the IMI account managers discussed methods they’ve used in new board member training to build a stronger, more productive board and the consensus was clear:
Building a stronger board of directors starts long before your board members are sworn in.
Here are some of the strategies for a stronger board shared by the IMI team.
Consider creating a Leadership Development Committee to identify and recruit strong candidates for the board. Although current board members can and should be involved in preparing for the next board cycle, the task of recruitment ideally should be handled by a separate team in order to allow the current board to remain focused on the high level strategic items of the organization.
The Leadership Development Committee should keep the mission and vision of the organization in mind as they search for candidates. Where the organization wants to go will determine what you will need to get there. Are there any important skill sets that aren’t currently represented on board? Perhaps your board needs a legal perspective, financial specialist, a vendor voice or an industry expert. A successful board of directors often has a variety of skills and personality types represented – but all dedicated to a common purpose.
Conduct Pre-board Training
Once you’ve identified potential board members, think outside the box for pre-board training. Consider conducting a webinar for all potential board members. The webinar can be formal or informal, but should describe the responsibilities of board members (more on this below). Be sure to allow time for a Question & Answer session with current board members or brief testimonials of their experiences serving on the board for that “insider” perspective.
The informational webinar could be opened to the entire membership to help members understand what their association does and how they can be a part. During the webinar, take a few minutes to highlight other volunteer opportunities within the organization. Not everyone will be a good fit for the board, but everyone can volunteer.
As you connect with potential board members and conduct pre-board training, be sure to discuss expectations such as:
- Time commitment – How much time is expected from board members each week?
- Availability – Are your meetings face to face or a conference call? Be sure to disclose if travel is required and how many meetings a board member is expected to attend.
- Job description – A clear job description outlining the actual duties involved as a board member will help you connect with more promising candidates.
Being clear and upfront about responsibilities can reduce the chance of false starts and underperforming board members.
What are your strategies for a stronger board? Share with us in the comments below!