Good Governance #3: Board Induction
A comprehensive induction to an organisation allows new board members to be properly informed, supported and welcomed from the time of their board appointment.
Vicsport’s governance research has revealed that a well-developed and delivered board induction process can strongly influence a new board member’s experience and involvement in discussion and decision making.
It was especially influential for females entering an all male board with findings indicating that new board members were far more likely to contribute to the board sooner following a comprehensive board induction.
The ASC Sports Governance Principles (2012) also states that the board should ensure all new board members undergo an appropriate induction process.
The induction process should ensure that all board members have:
- An appropriate level of knowledge of the sector in which the organisation operates,
- A clear understanding of an organisation’s business operations,
- A clear understanding of the organisation’s ﬁnancial circumstances,
- A clear understanding of the organisation’s strategy and direction,
- A clear understanding of what is expected of the board member in their role, including legal responsibilities,
- A high-level knowledge of the business risks that may affect the organisation’s success, and
- Access to relevant background information.
Management should provide a brieﬁng session to all new board members once they have had time to assess the information listed above. This will allow them to address any concerns or queries they may have regarding the organisation. In addition, each new board member should receive:
- A letter of appointment outlining the role and expectations in their role,
- A copy of the directors and officers insurance, and
- A copy of the constitution, board charter, governance policies, strategic plan and any other key governance documents.
Continuous education and professional development programs should be made available to board members as necessary.
|3.1. Developing a Board Induction Process||3.5. Mentoring and Support|
|3.2. Board Induction Policy||3.6. Board Role Description|
|3.3. Board Induction Checklist||3.7. Board Code of Conduct|
|3.4. Board Introduction Letter|
3.1. Developing a Board Induction Process
Many organisations will have an informal process of induction in place, yet it is important to ensure that this is formalised to provide consistency in the approach and information provided to new board members as they take up their roles. Your organisation may wish to utilise the following steps as a guide to assist with strengthening and formalising the board member induction process:
- Review what is already in place
- Gain feedback from current board members about what they think and how the process could be improved
- Update or develop key induction documents as needed, including:
- Board Induction Policy
- Board Induction Checklist
- Board Introduction Letter
- Board Role Description
- Board Code of Conduct
- Follow the process outlined in your Induction Policy, ensuring key organisation information and documents are provided to new board members
- Update your induction process regularly based on good governance practices and the feedback of new board members as they join the board.
3.2. Board Induction Policy
Your organisation may wish to adopt a board induction policy which outlines the purpose and implementation of the board induction process. The following policy template provides an outline of key board induction elements; however, it should be adapted to suit the specific needs of your organisation.
3.3. Board Induction Checklist
To support the board induction process, an induction checklist is a useful tool to ensure that all procedures outlined in the induction policy have been carried out.
3.4. Board Introduction Letter
An introduction or welcome letter should be sent by the Chair/President to new board members soon after their election or appointment to the board. The letter should formally welcome the new board member onto the board and outline what the induction process will entail.
3.5. Mentoring and Support
Board behaviour and culture can be significantly enhanced by providing appropriate mentoring and support for board members. If newly appointed board members are assigned a mentor they are more likely to feel welcomed into their position, feel included in the board culture, have greater self-confidence and feel better informed to contribute to discussion and decision making sooner.
Interviews conducted with female board members as part of Vicsport’s governance research (2013) also revealed that a comprehensive induction process involving mentoring and support results in a more rewarding experience for board members.
3.6. Board Role Description
Along with an introduction letter, the new board member should receive a role description and code of conduct to ensure they have a clear understanding of their new role as board member. This will allow them the opportunity to review these documents and clarify any queries prior to commencing their new position.
A board role description is similar to that of a job description. It outlines the key roles of the board member and should form the basis of all board operations and discussions.
3.7. Board Code of Conduct
A board code of conduct clearly describes the expectations of board members specifically relating to the behaviour, culture, values and ethical standards as agreed to by the board. Developing and committing to an agreed set of behaviours and values can have a very positive effect on board operations and culture. It can strengthen board unity and help to develop leadership, trust, integrity and transparency within the board as well as with staff, members and stakeholders.
A Code of Conduct may also assist to manage conflicts or disputes should they arise.
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