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The RGI Blog

4 Best Practices for Developing a New Board of Directors

For many associations, the beginning of a new year brings with it the installment of a new board of directors. Whether your association is replacing the entirety of its board or just welcoming a few new faces, an orderly transition period is necessary to ensure sustained success for the entire organization. A key component of this transition is wholesome training for the new board members to foster a culture of teamwork, long-term vision, and results-focused decision making.

With that in mind, here are four best practices for training a new board of directors for your association:

  • Plan ahead: Training a new board of directors should never be a spontaneous process. You cannot expect success by making it up as you go, especially if you plan to integrate the ideas and voices of a variety of different board members. Rather, be sure to have a plan in place for when the time comes to initiate a new board. This means both phasing out the past board and ushering in the new leaders. Create a timeline for the new board members to prepare for the road ahead and make sure they are aware of training expectations well in advance of their start date.
  • Start with the basics, then get specific: From the very beginning, it is important to make board training as clear and understandable as possible. Make sure your incoming board members first grasp the broad, yet important topics of association leadership. This includes training them on nonprofit basics, staff structuring, the governance model of associations, and more. From there, get more specific by moving to the roles the board plays in your association. This method will train your board in a way that gives them a true top-to-bottom perspective on the entire organization.
  • Keep the process engaging: With the amount of information that must be covered in training a new board, it is likely that the content will begin to feel overwhelming and even dull. And in today’s world where gathering in person is less likely than before, it can be tiring to sit in front of a computer screen for the entirety of the training process. To keep things engaging, consider new methods to deliver content to your new board. Encourage them to interact in creative ways with each other and think about mixing up the training through different video messages, podcasts, webinars, and other platforms to match the different learning styles of your team.
  • Think long-term: It can be easy to get caught up in the details when training a new board. Just like anyone starting something new, everyone will want to know the next step, and while the first few weeks may feel like survival mode, it is crucial the training does not stop there. Training should be a year-round process that encourages leaders to evaluate, reassess, make a plan, and execute it before starting the process over. Each next step should be a new opportunity to learn and train. With this mindset, training becomes less of a sprint and more of a well-prepared plan to carry you into the future.

Training a new board of directors can feel like a lot. However, there are ways to make the process smooth, enjoyable, and attainable. Find out more about each of the four steps above and learn more details about training a new board by downloading our complete Board Orientation Checklist for Year-Round Training.