Board teambuilding checklist

It’s a well-accepted truism in business that a team is more effective than a simple quantity of individuals (maybe not 100% accepted but most businesses of any size do organise their people into teams, so there must be something to it…) As a board, you meet, get together, discuss and decide… but are you capable of operating as more than the mere sum of your parts (something you no doubt demand from other teams in your company)?

Are you really a team?

Yes, you get things done. But do you do it as a team? Consider the following questions:

  • What is your organisation’s purpose? What does it deliver?
  • What role do you see the board having in that? What value do you add?
  • What role does the rest of the organisation see the board as having?
  • How could the board’s activity better align with the organisation’s purpose, goals and values?
  • What behaviours do you expect of other teams in the organisation?
  • What are the dynamics on the board – Who leads? Who has influence? Is discussion open? Are alternative viewpoints welcomed?
  • How do you deal with failure?
  • How do you see yourselves operating as a board in the future?

Teamwork enablers

The following are signposts. Most, if not all, point the way to better team working as a board. Some will suit your particular organisation and circumstances better than others. But all encourage more efficient team work.

  • A clear focus – The board is there to provide governance in line with the organisation’s mission and strategy. Management is there to deliver the mission and strategy operationally.
  • Clear communication – Not only within the board but with the rest of the company; a regular communications schedule between board and workforce helps ‘demystify’ the board and enable closer working. As for communication between board members, does you current setup ensure they get the information they need, when they need it?
  • Board skills and experience – Do you have what you need? Consider filling any gaps with non-executive director appointments.
  • Inclusion and diversity – However you define it, do you have a variety of skills, knowledge, experience and background among board members? Homogeneous teams are safe, comfortable and less inclined towards risk or innovation. A varied board has more varied potential input sitting around the table.
  • Make room on the agenda for disagreement – Invite challenges, alternative ideas and blue sky thinking for richer discussion and more nuanced decisions.
  • Meetings – How are they structured and managed? Given the level of responsibility and impact of decisions, arguably board meetings should be the best-managed. They probably aren’t, though. What kind of meeting structure would be most efficient for your board?

To start the process of deciding exactly how you can promote better board team working, carry out a diagnostic exercise – a straightforward SWOT analysis may give you what you need, or will at least start the process of increasing the team’s self-awareness and identifying specific development actions.

As a Board you expending a lot of energy on giving direction, solving challenges, and achieving goals. But how often do you step back and question the way in which you operate as a team? Are you an assortment of talented individual directors or a top-performing board team? To explore your board team working in more depth, check out our Board Team Identity workshop or our flexible Board Team Dynamics programme, tailored to your specific circumstances.

Or just give us a call on 01582 463465, we’re happy to help.

Categories: Boardroom, Training

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