How to welcome new board members to your team

10 min read
Jan 24, 2023 3:36:40 PM

As a board leader, the addition of new members to your team is a cause for excitement and anticipation. While your new recruits are eager to contribute and make a difference, it's important to make sure they are properly onboarded to ensure a smooth transition and set them up for success.

An effective onboarding process for new board members should include key information on current initiatives, key contacts, and organisational goals. By providing this information in a concise and organised manner, new members can quickly get up to speed and hit the ground running. This not only benefits the new members but also the entire organisation — and is a great example of good governance.

In short, an onboarding process for new board members is a vital step in ensuring a smooth transition, and in turn, setting the organisation up for success.

This guide aims to address important questions and offer valuable advice for improving the onboarding process.

In this article, we'll explore:

  • how to identify and recruit new board members
  • prepare with pre-meeting onboarding tips
  • conduct an orientation for incoming board members
  • advice for success for new members
  • how to streamline the onboarding process with board management software

Onboarding new members to your team is made easier when working with talented individuals. The goal is to integrate them seamlessly and efficiently with the rest of the team

Strategies for identifying and recruiting new board members

As a board leader, recruiting new members to support your organisation's mission and goals is crucial for success. Building an effective board is the foundation of organisational growth and vitality, which is why it's essential to have a steady pipeline of talented candidates.

When searching for new board members, it's important to take the following steps:

  1. Establish a nominating committee: Assemble a group of trusted advisors to assess the skills and qualities your board needs. Include well-connected board members on this committee, and task them with identifying a pool of qualified candidates. This role is often included in the governance committee since new board members are only needed as terms expire.

  2. Utilize your volunteers: Your volunteers are already connected and dedicated to your cause. They understand your organisation's backend processes, and serving on the board is an opportunity to further support your organisation.

  3. Analyze your donor database: Donors are also great candidates, as they are committed to your success. Consider major and recurring donors, as they demonstrate a consistent commitment to your cause and often have excellent connections within the community.

  4. Expand your search to the community: Go beyond existing advocates by considering prominent business leaders and outstanding volunteers at similar organizations. Utilise social media and board recruitment websites to connect with individuals looking to lend their support. Two good examples of board recruitment websites are Appoint better boards and Directors Australia.

By first examining your organisation's network and then expanding to the broader community, you will attract a promising pool of new board member candidates. With traditional tools and the vast online world at your disposal, finding passionate board members is easier than ever.

Prepare for the arrival of new board members: pre-meeting onboarding tips

Properly onboarding new board members is essential to ensuring they feel welcomed and integrated into the team from the start. One way to do this is by connecting them with other board members before the first official meeting. This not only demonstrates the board's professionalism, but it also helps to foster camaraderie and align everyone's goals.

While new board members will receive a formal introduction and welcome at the first meeting, taking the time to onboard them beforehand ensures they are fully engaged and prepared for their first meeting, whether it's later in the year or not. Here are four ways you can onboard new board members effectively:

Announce your new arrivals to the wider business

Welcoming new board members publicly is a great way to show them that they are valued and appreciated, and to inform supporters of new additions to the team. Here are three ways to make a "New Board Member" Announcement:

In your newsletter: Use your regularly-scheduled email newsletter to announce each new member, including a short bio and their positions on the board.

On your website: Update your leadership and board member page, and feature your new members in a blog post.

On your social media: Share a post showcasing the entire team or dedicate a post to each individual with their bio and headshot. This also gives them something to share on their own social media pages.

Proactively and publicly welcoming new board members sets the tone for a positive and productive experience. Experiment with different approaches and ask board members for their preferences to find what works best for your organisation.

Initiating a social gathering to foster relationships among new board members

Encouraging current board members and leadership team to connect with new board members is an effective way to welcome them and create positive first impressions. Icebreakers can also help new members feel more at ease and create connections before their first official meeting. Including key team members like the executive director, executive committee members and committee chairs will ensure new members have someone to turn to as they get familiar with the organisation.

A casual lunch or informal session can be a great way to kickstart their involvement and make them feel welcome. However, if meeting in person is not possible, a virtual hangout using virtual management tools is a good alternative. This will ensure all board members, regardless of location, can participate and feel connected.

Learn how to manage your board with board management software

Learn more

Including new board members in organisational communications

One important step in onboarding new board members is to ensure they are included in all organisational communications. Adding them to your email contact list and other communication platforms, such as a Slack channel, will ensure they have access to all pertinent information and are able to plan accordingly.

Using a board management software tool like BoardPro can simplify this process. By adding new members to your BoardPro people sections, they can have access to all necessary information, such as meeting agendas, boardpacks and history of minutes, in one convenient location.

Arranging a site visit for new board members

If feasible, it's beneficial to invite new board members to your organisation's facility for a visit before their first board session. This allows them to tour the facility, see the boardroom, meet staff and volunteers, and observe the team in action. This informal meeting will provide them with a better understanding of their role and help them prepare for their first board session.

For new board members who prefer to stay remote, virtual tours are an option. Schedule a meeting using virtual tools such as Zoom and Teams and give a walk-through of the facility, answering any questions they may have. Alternatively, pre-record a video tour and share it with the team. This will give them a sense of the organisation and its operations.

Conducting an orientation for incoming board members

Organisations have the option to host a separate board orientation meeting for new members prior to the first official meeting or to include it in the first meeting. However, having a separate meeting to go over the mission, expectations and paperwork may be more effective. This allows more time for the orientation and sets a strong foundation for future meetings.

Keep in mind that board orientations often take longer than expected, so it's worth dedicating time to start off on the right track. These new members are the organisation's future leaders, so it's important to invest time in them. Additionally, team-building exercises can be beneficial to help new board members build camaraderie and get comfortable working as a group.

Welcome aboard!

When bringing on a new board member, providing them with relevant documents is an important part of the onboarding process. However, it's important to strike a balance and not overwhelm them with excessive paperwork. Instead, provide a welcome packet with essential background materials that they can review and use to formulate questions. This will help them get oriented quickly. Some examples of key documents to include in this packet are:

  • Organisational overview: A summary of your organisation's history, mission, and current initiatives to provide new members with a general understanding of the organisation.
  • Board member duties: A clear outline of the responsibilities and expectations for each board member role, such as chair, treasurer, and company secretary.

  • Constitution: A copy of the organisation's constitution to provide new members with a foundational understanding of their role in the decision-making process.

  • Financial information: Essential financial data such as the approved budget for the year and recent audit results.

  • Current leadership and board member directory: A list of current leadership and board members, including brief bios, photos, and contact information.

  • Meeting and event calendar: A schedule of upcoming meetings and events, both programmatic and development-related, to help new members plan accordingly and suggest updates if necessary.

  • Committee information: A list of committees, their charges, and the names and contact information of committee members.

We recommend providing these documents to new board members in a ring binder or a board portal like BoardPro Using a board portal, you can go paperless and create a designated document group where all the documents are stored digitally and securely. This allows new board members to easily access the information they need without having to sift through physical paperwork.

Outlining expectations and duties for each board member role

Once introductions have been made, it's important to discuss roles, responsibilities, and expectations for new board members. Clearly outlining the responsibilities of each role is crucial for achieving the organisation's mission.

Begin by providing a general overview of basic board member expectations, such as a conflict of interest policy or questionnaire, and any expectations regarding fundraising participation. Then, delve deeper into each role by discussing the day-to-day responsibilities. For example, the secretary is responsible for taking minutes, maintaining corporate records, and scheduling board meetings, while the treasurer is responsible for financial tasks such as paying bills and managing funds.

By communicating these expectations upfront, confusion can be avoided and everyone can be held accountable for their roles.

Advice for incoming board members: strategies for success

Serving on a board can be a valuable experience for personal and professional growth, but it can also be challenging, especially for new members. As a board leader, it is your responsibility to provide new members with the resources they need to succeed. As part of the onboarding process, provide them with practical tips and guidance for effective decision-making. Here are a few key tips to share with new board members to help them transition into seasoned contributors:

  • Prioritise commitments: Encourage new members to focus on learning about the board and how members work best together, rather than taking on too many tasks at once. Use a task management tool to help them stay organised and follow through on their commitments.

  • Come prepared: Emphasise the importance of being prepared for meetings by reviewing the agenda and any related documents beforehand.

  • Build relationships: Building trust among board members is essential for success. Encourage new members to proactively build relationships with their fellow board members outside of the boardroom.

  • Speak up: Remind new members that they have been brought on board to contribute their perspectives. Encourage them to speak up, so long as they have done sufficient research on the topic at hand.

By providing new board members with these tips, you can help them become confident and effective contributors to your team.

Streamlining the onboarding process for new board members with board management software

Easing the transition for new board members is crucial, and one way to do that is by providing them with user-friendly board management software that minimises the learning curve. BoardPro offers a range of tools that can simplify the onboarding process for new members. These tools include:

Governance repository

Managing your documents in BoardPro means that you can access all important governance and meeting information in one central, secure location. Leave behind digging through ad-hoc external document repositories like Dropbox or Google drive, and let BoardPro manage all of your governance related documents.

Meeting minutes

Taking accurate minutes is a legal requirement for boards, however it is often costly and time consuming. BoardPro’s Minutes makes the process of taking minutes and sending them to the board stress-free for administrators and board members alike.

Board packs

A board pack is one of the key ingredients for effective board meetings. They contain essential information that assists board members making strategic decisions at a board meeting. Compiling these packs and sharing them with the board is a time-consuming task and can take hours or even days of administrator time. Combining your agenda and meeting documents into an easy-to-read board pack is simple with BoardPro. All you need to do is add your supporting papers and board reports to your agenda and BoardPro does the rest for you.

Meeting Agenda builder

Creating your meeting agenda has never been easier with BoardPro. Although one of the most important tasks undertaken by a board administrator, it is often the most costly and time-consuming. With BoardPro, build an agenda by cloning an existing agenda, or use the best practice template. BoardPro’s signature smart tools are at your fingertips, to automate the regular tasks of confirming the minutes, and reviewing the interest register and action list.

Board management software like BoardPro not only simplifies the onboarding process for new board members, but also provides a centralised and organised platform for managing meetings, voting, and other important board activities on an ongoing basis. With BoardPro, post-meeting tasks can also be streamlined and made more efficient, promoting autonomy and teamwork among board members.

About BoardPro

At its heart, BoardPro is all about increasing Board productivity and functionality. We advocate for good governance no matter the size of your operation and help everyone in the Board/management relationship make use of their time and resources with maximum efficiency. Our Board software fills a gap in the market, working to give Board members their time back to focus on what is truly important to their organisations rather than being bogged down in daily operations. BoardPro was developed by some of the best independent directors and experienced CEOs to help your company progress to the next level.

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