Written by Elise Perraud, NEDonBoard COO
Induction refers to the process of onboarding a new director on the board. The objective of the induction programme is to provide the newly appointed director with all the information that he/she needs to be effective in the role and contribute to the sustainable long-term success of the organisation on which he/she serves. The quality of board induction programmes varies widely with many boards failing to provide an effective induction that maximises the contribution of the newly appointed directors in the shortest practicable time. In this second blog, NEDonBoard describes the attributes of well-designed board induction programmes.
Effective board induction programmes share the following attributes:
- Engaging, tailored and relevant. Induction programmes should have common as well as unique features to reflect the experiences and expertise of the newly appointed board director. The on-boarding should be relevant to the director’s skillset. For example, if you appoint a non-executive from outside your industry, the onboarding should emphasise industry information such as competitor analysis or industry specific legislations and regulations.
- Two-way process. The onboarding is a shared responsibility. The board should learn about the new director and the new director should learn more about the board, the other directors, and the organisation. This implies that time should be dedicated for sessions during which the director and other board members meet to build strong working relationships.
- Stakeholders. Depending on the skills of the new directors and his/her area of expertise, shareholders and other stakeholders may be involved in the onboarding process. It is common for the newly appointed directors to meet with the external auditors and significant shareholders (who may be part of the interview and recruitment process). Stakeholders may extend to groups of employees or suppliers to the extent this is relevant to the role and context of the appointment. A newly appointed director may listen to customer complaints, engage with trade unions, etc.
- Mentoring. This can be done formally with a paid professional or informally with an experienced member of the board, including the chair him/herself. NEDonBoard encourages organisations to ask one of their board members to act as a mentor for the newly appointed director. The mentor should be selected on skills, experiences, expertise. The availability of the mentor for meaningful engagement and interactions should also be considered for the mentor-mentee relationship to be a success and facilitate the contribution of the new board member.
- Training. Professional development needs should be identified through a gap analysis. NEDonBoard designed the Modern Board Member Masterclass for newly appointed directors. The course covers important governance aspects of the board member role and focuses on modern and contemporary boardroom topics such as ESG and digital transformation.
- Feedback loop. Whoever is in charge of the onboarding (typically the company secretary) should get feedback from the new board director about the strengths and weaknesses of the onboarding programme, so it can be improved next time.
- Induction day vs. onboarding process. Six months are typically necessary for a new director to be onboarded and familiar with the organisation and its industry. The induction should therefore be viewed as a process or programme, with regular check-in sessions with the chair and/or mentor, as well as the company secretary, so that the new director feels welcome, comfortable, and confident to contribute and express his/her views.
If you are an organisation looking to improve the board onboarding process and require further guidance, please contact [email protected]. We encourage you access the Modern Board Member Masterclass course brochure. Specifically designed for newly appointed board directors, or those looking to refresh their knowledge and skills, the Masterclass complements company specific onboarding programmes. NEDonBoard has already successfully trained newly appointed directors and maximised their contribution.
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