Building a Competency-Based Board

Director Competency is a Trend

One of the most fundamental trends in current corporate governance is the upwards shift in Director competency.

On competency-based Boards, the expertise of the Directors mirrors the challenges and opportunities that the organization is facing. These opportunities and challenges could range from corporate governance and financial stability through to operating challenges like information security and industry innovation.

Strong Corporate Governance

In the past, the composition of many not-for-profit and association Boards directly reflected constituent representation. Directors were chosen based on their ability to speak for clients and members. There was also lots of regional representation, as regional differences were considered fundamental to good governance.

There are a couple of weaknesses with this approach.

First, constituent representation falls short of effective corporate governance. The role of a Board of Directors is to identify and mitigate risk, oversee strategy and performance manage the CEO. The Board does this on behalf of the entire organization, not just individual constituents.

Second, the knowledge and skills of constituent representation are frequently different from those required to oversee a sustainable, stable organization. There are many challenges an organization must overcome to survive into the future. Financially stability is one. There are many others, including meeting the needs of clients and members. Boards must have the expertise to identify and deal with these challenges.

Building a competency-based Board depends on both understanding the objectives of strong governance, then identifying and attracting the expertise required that reflects the challenges and opportunities the organization is facing.

Governance for the Future

I see that not-for-profit and association governance is changing. Traditional governance structures and approaches are being adapted and sometimes blown away by the impact of new threats and opportunities. The future depends on Boards that have the competency to meet this challenge.

Using Social Media To Reach Our Audiences

Social media is a natural communications channel for the people who want to know what’s happening at Canadian Hearing Society.

Our primary audiences are Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians. Twitter, Facebook and other platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram are well understood, closely monitored and well used by these Canadians.

Other key audiences for CHS include employers, funders and donors. We use social media to help ensure that it’s easy for these audiences to stay current on what’s happening.

Here’s what I’ve learned about using social media in our organization:

  1. It’s requires a serious commitment. At CHS there is no shortage of news, events, expertise and insight that is helpful for the people we serve. The challenge is staying organized, planned and capable. That is the responsibility of our communications department. We’ve invested in them and count on them to stay on top of what’s current, provide interesting and easy-to-understand content and, to provide the expertise and capacity for communicating on-line in a timely and professional manner.
  2. People must be constantly reminded to include social media in their planning. Like ‘quality control’, ‘HR’, or many other corporate functions, people easily fall into the habit of thinking that social media is someone else’s responsibility (the communications department!). It becomes an after-thought. When that happens we miss opportunities to keep people well informed. Counteracting that means constantly reminding ourselves to think about social media planning from the outset of every activity.
  3. Not everyone loves every piece of content we tweet or post (although they seem to like most of them). That is to be expected. Everyone is different.  We cannot let it dissuade us from our on-going commitment to do the best we can to keep our clients and others who care about us informed.
  4. Social media is giving us better insight on the needs of those we serve. Every day, our leadership team gets a report on our social media activity. We see what content we’ve posted, how far it’s reached and how much interaction has taken place. As a result, I see us developing a stronger sense for how to communicate with Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians and with others who are important to CHS.

At Canadian Hearing Society, we’re using social media because it is such an effective, efficient, timely, and visible tool for communicating information and insight. It is a critical strategy we are using to achieve our goals.

Here is a link to our Twitter feed.

Here is a link to our Facebook page.

Here is a link to our LinkedIn page.

Her is a link to our website.