Resources & Policy

Optimising the Performance of Your Board

A company’s board of directors is responsible for making significant strategic and financial decisions. But how can you be sure that your board is performing in the best possible way for your business. Below is a step-by-step guide to getting the most out of your board:

Set goals and responsibilities

Be clear that you and your board set business goals and assess whether your board is doing enough to help you achieve those goals. Ensure your board is aware of your key business objectives - it should set the strategy designed to meet those objectives, monitor financial performance against the company’s budget and ensure that the company is compliant with legislation.

The board should have a clear set of responsibilities which outline its purpose and role. Weigh up whether your board is meeting those responsibilities and whether it would benefit from fresh faces.

Balance the boardroom

A board should have a balance between executive and non-executive directors. Ensuring a sufficient level of balance and diversity on your board, in terms of the skills, experience, expertise and independence of directors, makes it more capable of understanding potential risks and identifying the impact of such risks on your business and its various stakeholders. Diversity of thought, experience, expertise and perspective, ensures a balance of opinion and a broad mix of contributions as part of the decision-making process.

Use resources

It is worthwhile tapping into the vast wisdom and intellectual power of your board. Use the experience and expertise of board members who can bring specialist knowledge and insights to your organisation. Seek their advice and input on key strategic decisions.

Identify board weaknesses

Identify any weaknesses on your board, for instance, a skills gap or lack of expertise with regard to corporate governance or directors’ responsibilities. Such weaknesses, once identified, can be easily addressed through appointing directors who possess the required skills and through the provision of suitable training for board members.

Make time for board meetings

Make sure that directors are briefed before board meetings and receive board papers in good time, so that they have a grasp of the issues before they are discussed. Board papers should include the agenda, minutes of the previous meeting and management accounts.

Evaluate board performance

Undertaking an external board evaluation, by an independent assessor, enables your organisation to gain a valuable insight into the effectiveness of your board and to assess how it is operating in key areas such as strategy, business principles and stakeholder management, risk management and internal control. A board evaluation can help you to identify board strengths and to pinpoint areas for improvement.

Further information on the role of the board is available in the Directors’ Handbook, produced by the IoD and McCann FitzGerald.