Recently I have just finished working with an organisation helping them to identify how to improve their effectiveness – both collectively as a Board as well as individually as Trustees and Directors.
Over the years I have seen the good, the bad and the very ugly of how Boards and individuals work together for the benefit of the organisations they represent. In all this work, one thing is common – those individuals and Boards who invest a bit of time on reflection, sensible self assessment and development are always the ones who are likely to be the most effective.
How effective are you?
Worryingly, it is not uncommon to find some Trustees and Senior Leaders unclear on the precise nature of their role and responsibilities. Last week a Trustee of an organisation told me that their role is ‘to turn up at Board meetings’. This is not the first time a Trustee has said this to me and whilst it’s clearly important for Board members to turn up at the meetings, it spectacularly misses the point about being an effective Trustee/Leader.
Anyone (Executive or Non-Executive) who is unsure of their role and responsibilities (and the differences between them) needs to find out quick. Once clear, work can then begin on supporting them to carry it out to the best of their ability.
There are five key things I always advocate:
- Any Trustee (new or old) should have read (as a bare minimum) the Charity Commission Trustee welcome pack.
- I also regularly refer individuals and organisations to the Charity Governance Code which is a great practical tool to help charities and their Trustees develop high standards of governance.
- It is often much easier for someone ‘outside’ of the organisation to cast their eyes over things and review effectiveness than for someone from within. In all of my leadership and management roles to date I have found that having a supportive and honest critical friend (formal and informal) has been fundamental to success and development.
- Getting Executive and Non Executive roles working optimally together is key. The first priority is to ensure that the right things are being focused on, at the right level, by the right people. Is everyone clear on the differences between operational delivery versus strategic and governance oversight? Are the boundaries clear and respected? Do you have the balance right in terms of providing support versus healthy challenge? All important questions for Boards and Directors to consider and agree.
- Finally, never forget you are not alone. There are many organisations and membership bodies that can help. In fact one of my personal frustrations is that there are just so many and it can often be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of where best to turn first. My starters for ten are usually: ACEVO, NCVO, Association of Chairs, Charity Comms and the Small Charities Coalition to name but a few!
Organisations and individuals will clearly be at different stages of their understanding and development at different times. However, one thing is consistent – If you do not invest some time and thought in this area it will be much harder for your organisation to Thrive.
A BIT ABOUT ME
Former charity CEO passionate about helping charities and not for profit organisations across the UK to Thrive. With over 25 years experience I support people and charities to be the very best they can be. I set up Thrive Charity Consulting offering a wealth of insight, experience and expert advice. We help people to solve problems, overcome challenges and maximise individual and organisational effectiveness.
Contact us to find out how we could help your charity.