Board productivity over the summer

With the serious reorganization of pretty much all aspects of our society due to the COVID 19 pandemic, it is clear that boards of not-for-profit organizations will also be forced to restructure and seriously reflect on the scope and amount of work that needs to be tackled in the upcoming months.

It is more than likely that the lazy days of summer are gone for this year. Traditionally it has been a time when board productivity has taken a backseat to merry weather and the clarion call of vacation hot spots, often to the detriment of organizations. This year’s current situation is going to force some change and create a new sense of engagement that will be unprecedented in most not-for-profit boardrooms.

In the recent ICD’s Director Lens survey, which focuses on key political, social and economic issues impacting organizations, key insights reveal a unanimous to-do list for Canada’s not-for-profit board members.The tabulated the results were comprised of the answers given by 67 ICD members, 25 of which were from not-for-profit organizations.

Although the survey was conducted during September and October of 2019, well before the world had to face a pandemic, it is clear that regarding what the greatest challenge facing boards today has most likely not changed very much; a precarious workforce.  According to the survey results 57% of directors ranked this as the most important challenge for their organizations

With Canada’s unemployment rate before the pandemic hovering around 5% it was not always easy to find the right kind of qualified candidates to fill various positions within an organization. The current projections are being estimated at over 13%, with regional differences varying greatly across the country. What does this mean for your board’s action plan regarding human resources?

It might not seem like the time to be focusing future hires or succession planning for your organization when survival might be at stake for some. But if we have learned anything about how to survive through difficult times, it is all about a long touted mantra used by the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts – be prepared. 

By addressing the context of human resource issues head on and incorporating them into your yearly action plan, which should include meetings over the summer months given the new context, ensures that you go beyond the key governance obligations and move towards setting a better course for your not-for-profit to succeed in attaining its mission and vision. 

The survey revealed another interesting tidbit related to this very idea. More than half of respondents said that their board had not addressed how to best use new technologies, how to create alternative working arrangements, and how to adapt to changing demographics in respect to how people will need to work in the future. Well the future is here and now – if this point was not on your agenda it is time to pencil it in for sure!

One survey respondent said that their organization was “embarking on significant technology changes and considering how people will work in the future because it is imperative in determining the technology, architecture, and application solutions”. 

Actively looking for solutions to transform your organization into a modern workspace not only makes sense for staff but for volunteers as well. From virtual board meetings to flexible working conditions, not-for-profits have many opportunities to seize if board members make a conscious choice to steer the organization into the future instead of parking it in status-quo.

In a recent Konect webinar, Phil’s Kim Fuller addressed the strategy needed and logistics involved in moving towards new platforms that allow for a more reactive and flexible organization. Tools that have a relatively low initial cost but that provide great advantages to not-for-profits were discussed and with the new context of the pandemic in the front mind of everyone tuning in, Kim dissected how governance also needs to adapt. 

Summer is the perfect time to create a sub-committee think about these important issues. If your organization needs some help to guide you through the process to a positive outcome, reach out and Phil will be glad to provide the insight and structure to transform your board from reactive to proactive in no time. 

Now is the time to reset the coordinates – take advantage of the months to come.