Tip #25 The Key to Effective Boardroom Discussions Is....

Posted on: October 1, 2017
Tags: Tips for effective boards

The key to effective boardroom discussions and good boardroom decisions is the engagement of all board members in focusing on and attending to group process issues.

What do I mean by group process issues.  Certainly board members need to be focused on the issues or topics under discussion.  But if the discussion is to be productive, board members need at the same time to be aware not only about WHAT is being discussed but HOW it is being discussed.  The HOW of the discussion is what is meant by group process and includes such considerations as:  Is everyone being encouraged to participate?  Is the discussion being dominated by a few board members?  Are members encouraged to present differing viewpoints?  How are differing viewpoints responded to?  Have differing viewpoints been identified?  Are discussions respectful?  Are disagreements focused on issues and not on persons?  Are we staying on track in terms of our agenda or have we gone off on a tangent?

Of course, the person chairing the board meeting has a special responsibility to be attuned to and responsive to group process issues but it is important to create the expectation that all board members share responsibility for the success of the board meeting and therefore all board members should assist in maintaining effective group process.

It may sound simple and perhaps easy to attend to group process issues, but my experience is that it isn't simple or easy.  It takes practice to become skilled in identifying and responding to group process issues especially while also being focused on the matter at hand being discussed.  Some practical suggestions include:  ensure that your chair has training in group process facilitation, encourage all board members to be attentive to group process issues, consider identifying one board member (perhaps on a rotating basis) to make a special effort to be attentive to group process issues and speak up with observations during boardroom discussions and/or at the end of the board meeting, establish a listing of norms or ground rules for boardroom discussions, and provide an opportunity for all board members to provide feedback at the end of each meeting about the HOW or group process of the meeting.  This feedback could be provided vocally at the meeting or through brief written questionnaires collected and collated by the board secretary or other designated board member for discussion at the next board meeting.

In future Tips for Effective Boards, we'll provide specific tools and techniques for identifying and addressing group process issues in the boardroom.

The Policy Governance® system provides a foundation for effective group process.  For more information about the Policy Governance® system, please go to www.BoardsOnCourse.com/policy-governance.

Policy Governance® is the registered service mark of Dr. John Carver. Registration is only to ensure accurate description of the model rather than for financial gain. The model is available free to all with no royalties or license fees for its use. The authoritative website for Policy Governance is www.carvergovernance.com.