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The Ultimate Guide To Board Etiquette

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The_Ultimate_Guide_To_Board_EtiquetteIn the everyday course of business, boards are required to reach collective agreements. Considering the different personalities, opinions, behaviours and the executive and non executive functions of the individuals on a boa rd, reaching collective agreements can sometimes be challenging.  However, it is healthy for individuals on a board to disagree, challenge each other and offer alternative solutions to problems. Employing appropriate etiquette can be fundamental in ensuring that a board of diverse minds speak with one voice.

Board etiquette not only makes a board more efficient, but may also ensure that legal and ethical principles are observed during and after the meeting.

Board protocol can vary significantly from one organisation to another, however, the following practical guidelines are general in nature and can assist most board members: 

Before A Meeting

  • Clearly understand the purpose of the meeting and your role in it;

  • Review board papers and request any further information you consider necessary in advance of the meeting;

  • Prepare for the meeting by noting any suggestions or questions you wish to raise; and

  • Arrive early. 

During The Meeting

  • Do not visually or auditorily record any of the meeting unless the Chairman has given explicit permission and has advised the board before the meeting begins;

  • Ensure that any relevant conflicts of interest are declared to the board or the relevant person;

  • Follow the agenda and focus on the items at hand;

  • Direct any comments and discussions through the Chairman;

  • Listen to your fellow board members, do not interrupt, and be constructive with your comments / criticisms;

  • Understand that conflicts are a necessary side-effect of reaching consensus;

  • Discuss and understand the pros and cons of proposed solutions. Failure to do so may result in items reappearing time and time again;

  • Attend the entire meeting unless it is absolutely necessary to leave early.

After The Meeting

  • Read the post meeting papers, contribute to any applicable review meetings, understand the action points and proceed accordingly;

  • Do not attempt to come to a consensus outside of the boardroom;

  • Recognise and respect the confidentiality and sensitivity of matters discussed at the meeting;

  • Remember that decisions are taken in meetings collectively and that the responsibility is also collective.

Board Member Conduct

Board members should display high standards of conduct while also focusing on the board’s objectives. The dynamics of consensus building demand more sophisticated etiquette and it is important that board conduct and performance, collectively and individually, should be reviewed as part of an annual board evaluation process.

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