Yes, you’re communicating with your board members. There is a regular flow of information being shared. But are your efforts effective?
Two signals your communication isn’t working are when your emails aren’t being responded to and those reports you’ve worked so hard on to prepare, obviously aren’t being read.
Poor communication is what board members tell me is a top reason why board members don’t do what they’re supposed to do. Not communicating effectively also contributes to good board members becoming disengaged.
To improve your communication results, recognize individuals have different preferences on how they want to receive information. Understanding those differences will greatly increase your effectiveness.
Some board members will want information to be succinct and to the point while others will want more details, some will prefer a verbal report rather than written, and there will be those who appreciate visuals like charts and graphs.
How can you know who favors what form of information sharing? Start by asking during the recruitment and orientation phase of a new board member’s involvement. During individual conversations with current board members, asking about their preferences and soliciting feedback on how you can improve your communication methods will reinforce to them the importance you’re placing on communicating successfully.
Consider the use of personality assessments as a tool for gaining more in-depth insight on how board members prefer to be communicated with.
It’s important to avoid communication practices that cause board members to feel communication with them is inadequate.
Issues contributing to poor communications are timing, lack of information, and surprises.
Not providing material with adequate time to review and prepare for board meeting discussion, not giving sufficient background so informed decisions can be made, and not providing advance notice of an issue before board members hear about it from other sources are all communication mistakes that can be avoided.
To be more effective, anticipate what the board will need to know and what they will want to know. If there is a significant item on your next agenda that requires special board attention, advise your board members of that with a request they do extra preparation.
So yes, you are communicating with your board but are you communicating effectively?