Clubs known for their good governance and overall success have one thing in common: a great board orientation. A common complaint heard during club visits by KK&W is that board members feel they could have been better prepared for their role on the board. The perfect opportunity to start board members off on the right foot, set them up for success and foster greater efficiency is by holding a mandatory board orientation at the beginning of a new board’s term.
Board orientation is a one-time annual event that explains responsibilities, goals, expectations and sets the stage for constant learning and education throughout the year ahead. To create a high-functioning board of directors, a comprehensive board orientation must occur.
Remember the last time you were a “freshman” or first-timer at anything where there is already a group in place that you were then joining? No matter how long someone might have been a member of the club, becoming a board member is not something to be taken lightly. Shortening the learning curve through a well-organized orientation allows them to become positive contributors more quickly and feeling comfortable doing so benefits all involved.
The ingredients for a successful board orientation include the necessary time and commitment to do it right. At a minimum, a board orientation should be a one-day event, where all board members (new and existing) are required to attend. Mandatory attendance is critical, and the involvement of returning board members is equally important to help convey the dynamics of how business is done and to help reassure new board members of the desire for a fully participative board.
There is a lot of information to include, and an organized and detailed approach is the key to getting board members quickly up to speed. Proper education and perspective are important as board members must understand that clubs are a different kind of operation and therefore, they are often ran differently than most of their own personal businesses. The highest performing clubs also take reflecting on how they are doing as a board very seriously. They make it a priority to objectively assess themselves through an anonymous board self-evaluation process, to understand how they are performing with respect to connectivity to the membership, strategic direction, board structure and process and the board’s relationship with the club manager.
KEY ELEMENTS OF AN ORIENTATION