Engage your new board members – Don’t wait!

People don’t join boards to sit back and watch. They want to make a difference, and they want to do meaningful work. Engage them in meaningful work from the very start, and don’t make the mistake of thinking, “Let’s give him/her time to get up-to-speed.”

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you recruit and engage, new board members:

  • If you are being truly strategic about your recruitment, you should be able to describe during the recruitment process what role you hope your board recruit will play as a member of the board.
  • Committees are often where real work is done, where people get to know each other, and where some of the deepest engagement takes place. Whether it takes place while you are recruiting the new board member or during the orientation process, talk with your new board member about committee service. Most new board members will appreciate hearing, “Here’s where we were hoping you would serve…” Be open, however, to considering other options if your new board member has some other interest.
  • Consider building into your process a follow-up after 6 months or a year to see if your new board member is feeling like you are making good use of his or her talents. Be prepared to change committee assignments if necessary.

A board member who is not engaged in a role that he or she finds personally meaningful will either search for ways to become engaged (and perhaps in ways you won’t like) or will simply disengage, which is often evidenced by lack of participation in meetings, a failure to volunteer for tasks, or not showing-up for meetings.

For most people who join boards, simply showing-up for board meetings is not enough. They want to do something of value. Take board engagement seriously. Find meaningful roles for your new board members and see what they can do!

Additional tips on board governance can be found in the blog section of the our website: www.starboardleadership.com, or reach out directly to us using our contact form.  We look forward to helping you!