When you ask Board members if they’ve been trained, it’s not uncommon that they’ll answer, “Yes”. But many times, they’ll be wrong.
Board orientation is about the unique aspects of the organization. It might include introductions and team building among Board members, overviews of the organization’s products and services, celebration of the organization’s successes, review of various Board policies, and clarification of when meetings occur. The content of this orientation depends very much on the particular organization. Board orientations are very useful for giving Board members an understanding of the organization they are governing.
Board training is about the roles and responsibilities of any governing Board, that is, of any Board of a corporation, whether it be for-profit or nonprofit. The training would review the fiduciary duties of Board members and what members should do to fulfill each of those duties. The content of this training might be very similar across different organizations, although it would be modified slightly for certain differences between for-profit and nonprofit Boards (largely regarding Sarbanes Oxley and SEC regulations). Board training is useful to orient members to a country’s rules and regulations that govern corporations.
Board development includes a variety of activities intended to raise the quality of the Board’s operations up to a new level. Board development might include a Board evaluation, orientation, training, organization of committees or task forces, coaching to the Board Chair, development of certain Board policies, and a post-evaluation of the Board. Board development is extremely useful to help a Board to significantly improve its operations, for example, its recruiting, orientating, training, organizing, meetings, decisions and policies.
So the next time you’re thinking about the needs of your Board, consider whether you need Board orientation, training and/or development.
What do you think?