When you sit on a board or committee, the amount of work can be daunting. That’s why some boards can have members into the double digits, because there’s so much for them to get done.
But when you break it down, there are three main areas where a board does there work: governance, strategic direction, and accountability. Juggling these in smaller organisations can be tough, but identifying the jobs under each area is the first step - so let’s get started.
Governance can be defined as the framework of rules, relationships, systems, and processes within an organisation which control how decisions are made. This is essentially all the paperwork, including financial reports, audits, contracts, employee/volunteer procedures, board records, or anything else that should be written down to ensure it’s known by all members and stakeholders.
Governance processes are built by the board in order to properly direct the organisation and ensure that it’s operating as intended. Having proper governance in place will make the next two board functions much easier to manage.
In just about every organisation, the board will be the group which decides, or at least informs, the direction in which said organisation grows. When forming their boards, founders/owners will make sure to find members who bring strong strategic experience in a broad range of industries.
This allows the company to account for setbacks and use resources that they may not have been able to otherwise, which can only ever be a good thing. Another big part of a board’s strategic management is training, whether that’s of other management roles or volunteers.
Keeping the organisation’s workers skilled is a major factor in future success, and boards should always have a role in that process.
As a group in charge of both the rules by which the organisation runs and the strategic decisions it makes, a board of directors has a lot of weight on it’s collective shoulders. This is something that every board member must be aware of.
The board is accountable for the results of the actions of the organisation they govern, no matter whether those results are positive or negative. While often it’s the CEO or founder of an organisation who takes the brunt of any negative press in the eyes of the public, the whole board is always held internally accountable for these things.
On the flip side, bringing an organisation to great success brings great rewards for those responsible - so accountability does go both ways.