Boardroom decisions: the keys to good structure and dialogue
Boardroom decisions are the core of a director’s role, but you should make sure you’re doing them right.
Debate has a home in the boardroom. If it didn’t, the directors are either unsuited to the roles or not living up to their responsibilities. A healthy amount of back and forth is a good thing.
However, when the board gets locked in discussion, it’s essential to go about it correctly.
Here are some tips for navigating debate in the boardroom.
You should embrace a good boardroom culture before sitting at the table.
It’s a culture that doesn’t concentrate on arguing or defining strategy decisions as wins or losses. Good culture stems from dialogue.
Ensure you come to the table with a willingness to listen to others’ points and, above all, a willingness to consider them against your own, paving the way towards well-informed compromise.
Whatever you discuss in the boardroom should fall within the board’s remit, be specific, and address stakeholders’ concerns.
There’s no use arriving at the boardroom to find that, as a group, you’re unsure of what you’re going to discuss. Every conversation should happen with a clear goal in mind. If you’re unsure of that goal, don’t panic – just pause, take stock, decide, and then continue.
Decisions in the boardroom should be as informed as possible, and while board members often land their roles because of their expertise, it is always helpful to research or, at the very least, brush up on information before a meeting.
Important strategy decisions are made in the boardroom, so you never want the space to sit beneath a cloud of negativity.
Use common sense and good communication skills consistently. It will ensure that even if you disagree with your colleagues, you always keep a working level of respect.
If you’re starting to wonder about your attitude, the change could be as simple as keeping an eye on the phrases you use. They could play an enormous role in shaping your attitude.
While an agenda will usually record the topics discussed in the boardroom, it won’t cover what was said about them or who voted which way. This is why the minutes are crucial.
The minutes are the official record of why a board acted the way it did. Directors, management, and other stakeholders will often depend on that record in future.
Here are some tips about minuting boardroom discussion:
- Use a template – that way, you’ll have structure to the minutes from the start.
- Include copies of materials distributed during the meeting.
- If a debate occurs, it’s usually enough to summarise what was said. Do this impartially. Note who made objections only if your local laws or organisational protocol ask for it.
- When the board votes on something, be clear about what you need to record. Sometimes it’s just the result; others, it’s the result plus the number of votes for each option. Sometimes, it also includes who voted and how.
- Avoid omitting discussions from the minutes out of concern for sensitivity. The board can usually request this as a group, but it is bad practice.
- Ensure the chair signs off the minutes.
Good culture, relevant topics, adequate preparation, engaging attitudes, and clear records.
These are the ingredients of a productive environment for decision-making, and it’s always worth refreshing your mind with these before your next trip to the boardroom.