How to Induct Your Next Board Member

How to Induct Your Next Board Member

Induction processes are vital for ensuring that new Board members are equipped to contribute to an association’s goals. Any association with newly elected Board members must ensure their Board members are fully aware of their responsibilities before they are appointed. A thorough induction process with key senior figures ensures individuals are able to start meaningful work on the Board from the outset.

Why Inductions are Important

Inductions are a crucial part of any organisation’s process. They ensure that people are informed and empowered and able to meaningfully contribute to objectives from the beginning. Induction processes also provide an opportunity to share important resources and information.

All associations should invest some time in establishing a thorough induction process. This induction needs to provide new Board members with a comprehensive understanding of their specific role on the Board, the roles of others within the association, and how the association operates. 

Many new Board members come to the role with experience, but it is equally possible that a new member will be serving on a Board for the first time. Although they could be highly experienced in their sector and have detailed industry knowledge, their understanding of Board functions and objectives may be limited. In this situation, it is even more important that the induction process provides the information they need to fulfil their duties.

What Should be Covered in an Induction?

All inductions should be consistent and designed to provide the information required for the Board member to begin their role. Although induction processes will vary according to type and size of association, some key components should always be included. 

  • The new Board member should be introduced to key people within the association. It can be beneficial to appoint a mentor to assist the new Board member in the early days of their role. 
  • If applicable, new the Board member should be given a tour of the association’s premises.
  • The new Board member should be provided by an induction pack including key information (see below).
  • The new Board member should complete and return documents, such as declaration of interest forms, if this hasn’t already been done.

Who Should Conduct the Induction?

Association Presidents are best suited to conducting new Board member inductions. If the President is unavailable, or if the new member is taking on the role of President themselves, another person in a senior management position should take on the responsibility of induction. 

Although one individual should manage the induction process, it is a good idea to include multiple members of the association. This serves the dual purpose of allowing the new board member to meet others within the organisation, and to provide a broad view of different members’ roles and responsibilities. 

Key Documents and Information for Inductions

When joining the Board of Directors, there are several key pieces of documentation that should be provided. The President is responsible for ensuring that new Board members are given access to the following:

  • The association’s constitution and rules 
  • An overview of the roles and responsibilities of the members of the Board
  • Board meeting protocols 
  • Board meeting dates 
  • Code of conduct 
  • Financial position, including balance sheet, profit and loss statement 
  • Certificate of currency of all appropriate insurance policies 
  • Any matters arising that may have impact on the sustainability of the association
  • All Board policies.

Before the Induction Process

Before a new board member is appointed, the association needs to conduct their due diligence to ensure the person is a suitable candidate. Having clear processes in place for selecting Board members assists with making this a transparent and seamless exercise. 

Boards should have a clear list of desired skills and traits, both for Board members generally and for specific positions. Some general attributes may include knowledge of the association, understanding of the requirements of the Board, strong working relationships with relevant bodies and individuals, and excellent communication and organisation skills. Specialised knowledge areas required by some Board members may include accounting, law, human resource management, risk management, marketing, and information technology.

The President, on behalf of the Board, should conduct their own due diligence into the character and fit-for-purpose qualities of the new Board member, as well as their ability to act on behalf of the association. Associations may wish to request information about the Board member on behalf of the association (such as a police or ASIC check), to determine if the Board member has been convicted of any offence under the Corporations Act, has been declared bankrupt, or has criminal convictions.

It is also vital that newly appointed Board members complete their own due diligence of the association. The Board member should ensure they are aware of any potential exposure to personal liability before accepting any appointment. Additionally, the new Board member should have an understanding of the legal obligations and liabilities that apply to their role.

If you need help with your Board and leadership management, call the friendly team at AES on +61 3 8393 9382.

About the Author: Nick Koerbin (Executive Director, AES)

With over 30 years of management expertise, Executive Director and Founder of AES, Nick Koerbin is one of the most experienced NFP leaders in Australia. He has held positions as the CEO of Materials Australia, the National Parts Code, as well as senior positions in the Institute of Insurance, Australian Quality Council, the Financial Planning Association, the Australian Human Resources Institute, and the Furniture Industry Association of Australia. Nick created AES with a vision of creating a set of management practices that could be consistently followed to ensure success. Over his 30 years in the industry, he noticed that inconsistent management practices often impeded delivery of services to members, which in turn created issues with membership renewal. By establishing AES and creating the NFP Association Best Practice Self-Assessment, Nick has been able to assist leaders in becoming more confident and informed decision makers so that they can create more effective strategies and implementation plans.

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