How to induct new board directors
Inducting (introducing) a new director into your organisation and board is an important first step in giving them the information and confidence they need to be effective in their board role. Think about the induction process for a new director as you would for a new worker or volunteer in your organisation.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to induct new directors.
An induction kit is a great way to make sure you cover everything a new director will need to know in their role. Include a checklist of talking points and information that needs to be covered. It is a good idea to invite the new director to sign off each item of the induction checklist as you work through it with them. Keep this on file along with other documents such as their signed code of conduct, conflict of interest and confidentiality agreement
The induction kit may be part of, or separate from, a board manual that contains governance policies, procedures, your constitution and other board and organisation related documents.
You can find useful tools about how to create an induction kit and checklist here.
Your induction kit should include:
- A copy of the constitution, rules or Articles of Association
- A copy of the most recent annual report
- A summary of your organisation’s insurance policies including directors’ liability insurance
- Copies of all governance policies and procedures, or information on how to access them
- Copies of your code of conduct, conflict of interest and confidentiality agreement (have these signed)
- An organisational chart with names and positions
- A list of board members and a brief description of their background and the key skills or experience that they bring to the board
- A contact list of board members and senior staff
- Board meeting calendar
- Copies of minutes from the past three board meetings.
To ensure that a new director has a sound understanding of your organisation and the way its board operates you should arrange a face-to-face meeting between the new director, the Chair and possibly the Deputy Chair. At that meeting work through the induction kit and share information about the board, how it operates and its current priorities. You would also help the new director to understand the culture of your board – the way you do things.
When you have provided the information you feel a new director needs, encourage them to ask questions to help them build their knowledge and be ready to join the board team to govern the organisation.
The Chair should then arrange a meeting between the new director and the executive officer and possibly other key staff. The executive officer can describe the key people in the organisation, what they do and how they do things.
Here are some points to consider:
- Provide some background about the organisation and its ‘purpose’. Why it exists, the services it provides and the values that guide it (Refer to your Values and Mission Statement)
- The new board member may not be familiar with the jargon and acronyms common in your organisation
- Talk about the roles, responsibilities and expectations of a directors
- Discuss the culture of the board – the way it operates (eg casual or formal meetings, dress code, social interactions) and the nature of interaction with the executive officer
- Discuss and ensure understanding of the constitution
- Review and discuss your board’s code of conduct
- Discuss any current or medium-term issues that your board is facing
- Provide information on legal and contractual obligations
- Talk about key stakeholders and their relationship with your organisation
- Provide information about board subcommittees and their roles and discuss involvement in one of them
- Explain how to access board papers and other board documents
- Ask your new director to sign the code of conduct, conflict of interest and confidentiality agreements
- Ask about skills and knowledge your new director would like to develop, and possible ways these requests could be met (eg. Do they need formal training or would mentorship from another director be preferred?).
- A board manual is a useful way of keeping all this information together
Now that you have completed the paperwork and given your director the information they need to start in their new role, it’s time to show them around and introduce them to your organisation.
Here are some ideas:
- Take the new director around so they can be introduced to staff and learn how the organisation works
- Have an informal ‘meet and greet’ before your board meeting starts
- Invite them to a function or event that your organisation is involved in.
Evaluate and refine
Ask for feedback from all participants on the induction process. This can be done with a brief questionnaire and will help refine the process for future directors.
BoardConnect has some good resources:
And the Institute of Company Directors has great tips on Compiling a Board Manual.