In many ways, the pandemic has changed how board of directors manage corporations all over, but the key principles of good governance remain as important as ever. In this article, we’ll go through some of the best practices for ensuring good online board governance.
Good governance matters
More than just a set of policies, governance establishes a corporation’s internal culture and defines how the outside world sees it. It determines how different bodies within the corporation function, regulates relationships from shareholders to board of directors to management and so on.
Ultimately, good governance can make or break a company’s future. That’s why it is important for a corporation’s board to continue to function well. Let’s look at some best practices for remote board governance during this pandemic.
Online meetings: make the most of them
Let’s start from the basics – after all, this is where your corporation’s main decisions are made. When setting up board meetings, some key aspects to have in mind are:
A meeting is only as good as its participants. Send invitations well in advance and have a reminder set for some time before a meeting’s scheduled time. Confirmation requests (RVSPs) are also a great way to increase attendance.
Length and frequency
It’s no secret that online meetings can be exhausting – more so than real-life ones. An environment that taxes our cognitive ability differently requires a different approach, so aim for shorter, more frequent meetings to ward off some of that Zoom fatigue.
Relevancy and clarity
Attending a meeting from home, there’s only so much your overloaded attention spans can take before you see that productivity curve take a sudden dip. Stay on topic and use your meeting time well. As much as possible, assign tasks to specific members, with a set time frame for completion. Remember: greater clarity = better results.
A meeting cannot be kept relevant if you don’t come prepared. Among other things, prepare the meeting agenda and share it with the participants beforehand so they can also prepare.
Security is paramount
COVID-19 is not the only problem corporations were facing the past year. There was also the intensification of what security expert Raef Meeuwisse called a “cybersecurity pandemic.” Bigger online workflows mean a lot more data available for cybercriminals to target.
With impersonation, identity theft, ransomware and even corporate espionage on the rise, don’t take any risks. Board management software helps you keep important information safe through:
- End-to-end encryption for all communication. Keep third-parties from snooping in on your talks.
- Sharing of files on a need-to-know basis: Restrict access to files or folders according to who needs to access it.
- File and folder encryption. Keep your files and folders reliably protected and encrypted whenever you share them.
- Account protection. Use two-step verification and other safety measures to ensure nobody else gets access to your account.
Still, software is only as secure as the person handling it. Board members should be aware of basic security practices at all times.
It’s hard to avoid some degree of disconnect when all your communication happens behind a screen. But there are steps you can take to bring back some of that pre-pandemic engagement level:
- Set expectations and norms for your meetings. For instance, participants are more likely to remain focused if they know they’re not supposed to answer their phone during a conference.
- Appoint a leader for each meeting. This helps to shape an organized and consistent discussion.
- Rotate the leader from one meeting to the other, stimulating interest and involvement.
- Send out meeting minutes so everyone can recap the key points under discussion.
Provide assessments and elect board members strategically
Self-evaluations help the board keep course by pointing at what should be improved – and often providing valuable ideas of how to go about it.
There are plenty of useful board management tools for that, including questionnaires and other assessment forms. Get scores on the board as a whole, but also on the performance of individual members. Keep answers anonymous – that’s where the truth comes from.
If you find that something isn’t working well, keep that in mind for the next elections: you want new members who can fill in specific expertise gaps in the board of directors, besides possessing the requisite levels of experience and competence.
To sum up
The key to continued efficiency in remote board governance is retaining your flexibility and being able to adapt and deploy new tools as needed. Remember: with the challenges of remote governance come new opportunities as well!