Board Portal Begets Better Board Chemistry


Few things are as important for the success of an organization as good relations among members of a board, and the board, management and CEO. Good relationships can foster wise strategic decisions and productivity; if relationships fracture, the distraction and fallout can inhibit company performance.

Aprio imageWhile there are many reasons why boards become dysfunctional, the root problem often comes down to soured relationships between directors, officers, and the CEO. So how can directors build better internal and external chemistry and ensure good board performance?

Miscommunication Meddles With Trust

In most cases, good relations among board members and people in other parts of the governance structure is simply a matter of communication. The majority of directors have the best interests of their organizations at heart, and genuinely want to work productively with other members of the leadership team to ensure the best results. When relationships break down, it is almost always because people have misunderstood each other. Either the board or the executive feels left out of the loop—that information shared came too late or was incomplete.

Provide Same-Time Access to Full Information

One of the best things organizations concerned about building a more harmonious and productive culture among their board members and executive can do is adopt communication tools like board meeting software that ensure all members of the leadership team experience same-time, transparent communication that keeps them on the same page.

Software like Aprio creates a secure digital space where board members can share and access all the information related to the board’s business, making communications between directors generally more efficient while also increasing productivity.

When trying to create a more functional board, a few basic principles should be adhered to:

  • No surprises—Directors, board chairs, and executives should avoid springing important pieces of information on each other suddenly. No director should ever read about a major development for the first time in a newspaper.
  • The board is a team—No one speaks for the board unless they have been explicitly given license to.
  • Structures must be respected—Different organizations will have different hierarchies, but it is essential that every instrument of governance understands its role and respect the limits placed on its authority.

All of these principles are fundamentally about good communications, and there are several key ways in which board management software can help boards enact them:

  • Increase transparency—Board portal software like Aprio provides every board member continuous access to board information and corporate documents that keep them in the loop on company developments, strategic opportunities and issues, including history.
  • Open dialogue—Both at and in between meetings, provide methods for directors to relay input beyond speaking out in a group. Use online annotation and survey tools in a board portal to solicit comments from board members on agendas and meeting materials in advance of meetings, as well as on key topics and decisions.
  • Provide clarity about responsibilities—Keep track of deliverables and responsibilities assigned to directors or management. Aprio helps easily track attendance and outcomes/follow-up tasks.

For board members to collaborate effectively, they need to trust each other. To trust each other, they need to establish protocols for open, ongoing communication. A board portal can help.

Ian Warner is president/CEO of CUES strategic provider Aprio Inc.,the board portal software provider that makes good governance simple and affordable for credit unions large and small. He is also an experienced board chair and director. Before joining Aprio, Warner was COO of Vancity, Canada’s largest credit union. PointWest Credit Union, Hawaii State Federal Credit Union, VA Desert Pacific Federal Credit Union and Kitsap Credit Union are among the credit union customers that trust Aprio to simplify meeting preparation, efficiently engage directors and achieve well-run board meetings.

Apply it to Your Board

  1. What is your board’s current strategy for promoting good communication?
  2. How well would you say your current strategy is working?
  3. What ideas from this article might you apply to improve the chemistry among your board members and CEO?

Also by Warner, read “Superpowered Boards Have Female Members” and “Six Ways to Increase Your Board’s Transparency.”
CUES Symposium: A CEO/Chairman Exchange is designed to bolster the working relationship of your chair and CEO. It’s next slated for Jan. 27-31 in the Bahamas.