It is easy to focus on the operational aspects of running a company with the oversight of a board, while unintentionally overlooking how important communication is to the board’s successful functioning.
Good communication helps build trust, enhance decision-making, and protect the organisation’s reputation. Lack of communication in the boardroom might result in serious challenges or even a major crisis.
To help avoid this and ensure your board’s communication processes are efficient and seamless, make sure to incorporate the following:
1. Develop a communication strategy
The best way for a company board to assure long-term success is to define a clear long-term strategy in collaboration with management. It is vital for future company success to ensure that the strategy is clearly communicated, understood and reported against to measure success.
2. Communicate early
Communicate early with your board members so they can fully engage during meetings and contribute ideas and feedback on business performance and execution of overall strategic objectives. This encourages collaboration and will enhance the effectiveness of board meetings.
In case of a serious issue, such as a financial crisis, management and board mutual trust is vital to ensure this is communicated quickly so that appropriate actions can be taken.
3. Communicate often
Over-communication to a Board of Directors is rarely discouraged. It is also important to determine whether certain things need to be reported more frequently for awareness and transparency: KPIs or performance dashboards are a good way to provide high level operational results to boards in regular board packs and help establish standards for how the boards operate.
4. Communicate clearly
Clear communication both written and verbal creates more effective and productive meetings. Ensure board papers and other communications are written clearly, concisely and accurately.
Always proofread board communications. It is essential that board reports represent current information and are aligned to board meeting frequency.
Seek feedback from the Chair and other board members on the quality of reporting they are receiving and ensure suggestions for improvement are communicated back to the management team.
5. Keep communication effective and simple
Keep your key messages concise and to the point. It’s essential to maintain a balance between a high-level concept and granular detail. The board needs to receive clear and concise information regarding issues facing management and the business, while more specific issues such as audit and risk should be reserved for delegation to specific committees.
6. Implement the right technology
Ultimately, the communication channels themselves determine the efficacy of a board or management team. Without effective communication methods, a company’s strategy can quickly dissolve into a series of missteps and missed opportunities.
It is also important to keep in mind that today’s corporate board members are more technically advanced and increasingly embracing the convenience of communicating via online management portals. Such portals enable members to access, review and exchange vital company data from literally anywhere with a computer and an internet connection. They also provide an option for granting external consultants and partners access to certain documents if needed. One of the most efficient ways to enhance communication is to use an online collaboration tool like Agility.
Agility is a complete cloud-based platform that allows users to access, track and exchange documents allowing seamless collaboration, corporate administration and effective management of every element of your corporate governance framework. With the help of a full range of board management tools, you can administer your board meetings, save all your board documents, compile and distribute agendas, prepare board packs, digitise minutes and circulate resolutions for signature.
Implementing an online solution in your daily board administration practice offers better board communication among its members, thus ensuring better management and execution of the organisation’s strategy.
The Company Secretary plays an important role in ensuring the effectiveness of communication with, and to, the board.
Regularly evaluate your communication’s effectiveness with your board to see if it is on target. Make sure you are doing your best to avoid errors that could contribute to miscommunication. Ask board members for suggestions to improve communication.
Being a good communicator will increase your effectiveness as a leader, improve your relationships with board members and promote your board’s overall success.