Healthy Governance for Trustees' Week

As it's Trustees' Week, here are our top ten tips to recruit and retain good trustees .....

  • Interview:  Board members are critical appointments so check out candidates before you appoint them. Get them to attend a couple of Board meetings before they join to see if you like each other!
  • Induction: No other job would expect new starters to undertake their role without an induction so why would we treat Board members this way? Make sure they receive the documents they require, a meeting with the Chair - and why not appoint a Board member "buddy" to help them in the first few months?
  • Job Descriptions:  How can people undertake their role properly if they don't have a job description - whether or not they are paid? Make sure there are job descriptions for all Trustees and for the specific roles of Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, etc.
  • Training:  Keep an ongoing eye on the training needs of the Board and its members and ensure you budget for this each year.
  • Terms of Reference:  Again, make sure that the Terms of Reference for all Committees are clear - what powers do they have? What should they consider/decide/refer?
  • Hat Wearing:  Make sure Trustees know when they attend meetings they have to represent your organisation - not the one that employs them day to day.
  • Timing:  Make sure that meetings run to time - and to timed agendas - Boards can waste huge amounts of time discussing small items. Remember Parkinson's Law "The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved."
  • Accessibility:   Make sure the Board know the staff and volunteers - and vice versa. Avoid being remote and aloof - it doesn't help anyone.
  • Non-Attendance:  If you have members who do not attend for several meetings in a row without giving apologies why not introduce a "three strikes and you're out" policy in your governing document? Three missed meetings without apologies and they are deemed to have resigned - and you can recruit a new Board member who does have time to be at meetings.
  • Retirement:  Make sure your governing document requires Board members to retire after a set number of years or terms of office. That way you will avoid the problem of people not knowing when it's time to leave. You will also be able to keep the Board, and its thinking, fresh as a result.

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