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Board Recruitment and Orientation Strategies

Board Recruitment Strategies

Planning for Recruitment

  • Defining the criteria
  • Advertising for, identifying, recruiting and evaluating candidates
  • Designing the orientation/educational process to ensure that candidates are exposed to the model with the opportunity to opt out if there isn't a good fit
  • Implementing a post-election orientation process

Characteristics for Recruitment

According to John Carver, the ideal characteristics to seek for a Policy Governance® board are:
Understanding and commitment to the role of trustee, fidelity to the ownership and commitment to the general mission area
Propensity to think in terms of systems and context
Ability and eagerness to deal with values, vision and the long term
Ability and willingness to participate assertively in deliberation and abide by the intent of established policies
Willingness to share power in group process and to delegate areas of decision making to staff
[From Boards That Make a Difference, 3rd edition, 2006, John Wiley & Sons,  pp. 296–297]

Key criteria for skill or aptitude may include:

  • A capacity for strategic thinking
  • An ability not only to advocate your position but also to inquire and understand someone else's
  • An ability to think in broad terms rather than focus on detail
  • An interest in guiding operational decisions through policy instead of making the actual decisions
  • An ability to remain disciplined about following the policies and the principles on which they are based
  • A willingness to do governing work and seek opportunity for relevant learning outside of the standard meeting schedule

Sharing the Benefits of Participation

  • Capacity building in leadership
  • Learning about a wide variety of issues, including legal and financial issues, future forecasting, economic conditions.
  • Collaborative and collective thinking at a systemic and conceptual level

Orientation Strategies

One Possible Orientation Agenda

  • Principles, concepts and theories of the system
  • Impact of this system on board work
  • Impact of this system and the board's relationships with staff (including the CEO)
  • Practice doing the work of the board (policy development, monitoring assessment, group authority, abstracting up, etc.)
  • Basic information they will need to know
  • Where they can find things in your Policy Manual
  • Organizational Ends; their history and significance
  • Previous learnings from ownership linkage
  • Important historical board events or decisions
  • Current issues facing the board

Documents and topics commonly incorporated into the orientation include:

  • Board policies
  • The model on which policies are based on (Policy Governance®)
  • The director's job on a Policy Governance® board (processes of how things get done over time, monitoring process, agenda creation, board self-evaluation, etc.)
  • A history of the organization and its purpose
  • The governing style of the board as a group
  • Ways to appropriately raise issues and get questions answered
  • Expectations of behavior and participation

Ongoing group capacity building might include:

  • Ongoing and deeper instruction in the principles, concepts and practices of the board's chosen governing system
  • Regular practice within the governing system to build the behavioral skills required
  • Regular and purposeful education on the bigger strategic picture external to the organization
  • Exploration of anticipated dilemmas or challenges facing the organization
  • Regular and purposeful research into the desires of the members for the organization's long-term future