Category Archives: Survey

How Does Your Board Orientation Stack Up?

By: Rachel Luoma, MS, CAE

One of the most important aspects of board management, which can often be undervalued and underutilized, is a proper board orientation for new and incoming volunteer leadership. The board orientation is the best opportunity for welcoming a new board member, teaching them about the association, the expectations, the processes and the culture.

Think about it like this – would you hire a new staff member without providing them with some initial information and training? I sure hope the answer is no! If someone isn’t properly on-boarded, can they really be effective?

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A 2003 Study called the, Mellon Learning Curve Research Study showed that the average time for new hires, external to the organization, to achieve their full level of productivity ranged from between eight weeks and 20 weeks depending on the profession.

Fast forward to board orientations…what are you doing as an association to ensure that your board members, who essentially are external hires of your association volunteer leadership are effective on the shortest time possible?

So, ask yourself, how does your board orientation measure up?

Take the quick 10 question assessment below to see how your board orientation measures up and to help identify gaps in your program.

  1. Do you provide your new leadership with a copy of the current association budget, a copy of the association’s most recent financial statement and/or a copy of the most recent audited financial statement?
  • YES, prior to the term – 3 points
  • YES, within the first few months of the term – 1 point
  • NO – 0 points
  1. Do you provide your new leadership with information relative to their board responsibilities (i.e. job description, behavioral expectations, attendance requirements, etc.)?
  • YES, prior to the term – 3 points
  • YES, within the first few months of the term – 1 point
  • NO – 0 points
  1. Do you provide your new leadership with written association policies (i.e. antitrust, conflict of interest disclosure, etc.)?
  • YES, prior to the term – 3 points
  • YES, within the first few months of the term – 1 point
  • NO – 0 points
  1. Do you provide your new leadership with copies of the current articles of incorporation and bylaws?
  • YES, prior to the term – 3 points
  • YES, within the first few months of the term – 1 point
  • NO – 0 points
  1. Do you provide your new leadership with information on all standing committees and task forces?
  • YES, prior to the term – 3 points
  • YES, within the first few months of the term – 1 point
  • NO – 0 points
  1. Do you provide your new leadership with a current copy of the association’s strategic plan?
  • YES, prior to the term – 3 points
  • YES, within the first few months of the term – 1 point
  • NO – 0 points
  1. Do you provide your new leadership with meeting minutes for the previous year so they are aware of recent board decisions?
  • YES, prior to the term – 3 points
  • YES, within the first few months of the term – 1 point
  • NO – 0 points
  1. Do you provide your new leadership with information on staff and who to contact for what?
  • YES, prior to the term – 3 points
  • YES, within the first few months of the term – 1 point
  • NO – 0 points
  1. Do you provide your new leadership with information relative to the difference between board roles and staff roles?
  • YES, prior to the term – 3 points
  • YES, within the first few months of the term – 1 point
  • NO – 0 points
  1. Do you have an orientation call or in person meeting for new leadership?
  • YES, prior to the term – 3 points
  • YES, within the first few months of the term – 1 point
  • NO – 0 points

BONUS: Add 1 additional point if an outside facilitator is used for this call or meeting.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SCORING

20 to 31 points – Congrats! Your board orientation seems to be very comprehensive and you seem to be anticipating the information that your board needs and providing it in advance.  You should teach a class!

10 to 19 points – You are on the right track! It sounds like you are working to provide a sound orientation for your board.  Keep up the great work!

0 to 9 points – Sounds like there are opportunities for improvement! Consider if items are missing or if you might be able to provide them earlier to make sure that new board members start off on the right foot.


So, how did you measure up? Are you brave enough to share it in the comments of this blog?

Bottom Line: No matter what you scored on the assessment above, there are always opportunities for improvement on your board orientation. If you are a member of an SAE, such as the Florida Society of Association Executives, ask your fellow members what they do as they on-board new volunteer leadership.  Or take a moment to ask your current volunteer leaders what information they wish they would have received prior to their term or within the first few months of their term.

Additionally, below are a few great resources for improving your board orientation program:

What other great resources do you have to share?  Please post them below in the comments section of the blog.  Happy orienting!

RachelLuomaBio