There’s a simple answer to this question. The most important function of a board of directors is strategic direction; to analyse the recommendations made by the business’s management for furthering that business’s goals. The board will either approve these recommendations or send them back for further development. Frustratingly, many boards don’t do this.
No matter whether it’s due to inexperience, organisational issues, or ignorance, the board will often put other goals over the strategic direction of their organisation. Let’s look at two major ways the board can fix these problems and work towards reinforcing their strategic direction.
Organising the Board
First, organise yourselves. One of the first steps in this process is to go over your company’s bylaws, corporate structure, and a mission statement (step zero might even be to create these documents!). Determine what the company’s broad, high-level objectives are. List them. Make them as obvious and distinct as possible - make sure everyone knows them. This is imperative for the next step: divide the board into committees. Each committee is given control over an objective, usually in a capacity that is relevant to their personal expertise.
Beyond just the company’s natural objectives, committees might need to be formed to oversee things like auditing, resource allocation, and governance, but often these areas are important enough that they require the attention of the whole board. Pay extra attention to these broader points when writing your meeting agendas, as they need to be discussed thoroughly.
Another option may be to give one board member the role of Chief Strategic Officer. This allows one person to devote their time more wholly to organising the kind of things we talked about above, rather than spreading the responsibilities across multiple board members.
Organising the Management
Now, not every small organisation has both a board and a management team. Often at the start they will be the same group of people: the founders. However, as a company grows and more responsibilities become apparent, the two groups might become separate and distinct. This can be a good organisational technique, provided communication is maintained.
Organising the management team is often a matter of relating the company’s needs and philosophy with the day-to-day processes of running it. Whether they’re providing products, services, or aid, the management team needs to know their workflow, their customer relations practices, and their training processes down to a T.
This means writing it down, having training and development sessions, and taking the time to efficiently organise the team into an effective unit. The board and the management should be designing these together, to ensure the company’s philosophies are delivered in a practical and purposeful way.