- A good induction will help you settle into your governance role and begin contributing to decision making. You should expect core information about the organisation and the Committee or Board to be shared with you. Seek it out if it’s not provided as part of your induction.
- As you will be making decisions in meetings right from the start, it’s ok to ask that information be explained so that you’re able to make an informed decision, even if you’re new.
Starting out as a Committee or Board member with your organisation you can expect a warm welcome and introduction to other governance members, supported by either a formal or informal induction process. You might be guided in your induction by a fellow Committee member or, if your organisation has staff, sometimes the CEO or senior staff member who attends governance meetings. A structured induction process will help you feel part of the governance team and participate in decision-making right from the start.
Taking time to work through induction materials, asking lots of questions and seeking help from experienced governance colleagues will help you get comfortable with your new role quickly. Understanding the routines, processes, procedures and activities of the organisation will build your confidence that you can contribute to decision-making. Official documents like the Constitution/Articles of Association; strategic plan, legal structure, insurance details, budgets, financial reports, annual report, risk management plans, and/or a committee manual will likely be shared – as well as the minutes of recent meetings. You might also be given role and committee descriptions, a board meeting schedule and a policies and procedures manual. If these things aren’t automatically part of the induction you receive, seek them out. Together this information will give you a good picture of your organisation and how it works.
Realistically, it may take several months to get across the issues you will need to be familiar with and to become used to the routines of the Committee or Board you have just joined. Annual processes like budgeting, AGMs and annual planning will seem much less daunting after you have been through them … so most people settle into their governance role after a year or two. Nevertheless, once your join a Committee or Board you’ll be helping make decisions right from the start, so until you have more experience under your belt ask lots of questions and ensure you have the information you need to make informed decisions about the matters that come before the Committee.
Ask someone on the governance committee if they can mentor you and answer questions you might have about matters you are unfamiliar with.
If your Committee or Board doesn’t have a structured induction process, seek out core information for yourself and spend time coming up to speed with the processes and the activities of the organisation.
Want more? ... check out these resources
Online resource kit – Community Governance NZ Commission – Over 10 minutes
A great resource from our Kiwi cousins designed especially for governance newbies. Chock full of help sheets, templates, and tips for starting your governance journey. While some legal requirements will be different … because it’s for an NZ audience … there are heaps of adaptable tips and resources.
Online article – Institute of Community Directors – 3 minute read
A quick eight-step guide to an induction process that gives new Committee or Board members the best start to their governance journey. If your organisation doesn’t offer much in the way of induction, make your own using this article as a guide.