Best Practices for Engaging New Directors
You and your fellow board directors have been through a long journey. Over the past several months, you’ve screened prospective board director candidates. You’ve vetted the slate and interviewed the ones who best fit the organization’s requirements. You’ve completed a due diligence process, identified finalists and secured their commitment. And soon, those new directors will be joining you for their first board meeting.

For some of them, this may be their first board experience. They may be nervous about shouldering new responsibilities. Even those with previous board experience will have to manage a learning curve to fully understand the association and its challenges as well as their roles on the board.

Here are simple steps to ensure a smooth transition with new board members, properly welcome them and establish greater board continuity:
  • Host a board orientation that allows directors and staff to share information about the culture of the board, outline decision-making processes and define expectations.
  • Provide your new directors with the association’s bylaws, policy manual, code of ethics, other governing documents and position papers. Also include the association’s website, past publications and annual reports.
  • Provide them with a full year of minutes from past meetings so they have historical context of discussions and decisions.
  • Ensure new directors have all of the future board meeting dates, annual conferences and other significant events noted on their calendars.
  • Encourage them to schedule meet-and-greets with fellow directors. This will provide board members an opportunity to know each other personally and professionally.
  • Encourage new directors to gradually add assignments to their plate. It’s better to take on certain additional assignments after they better understand the context of the issues or initiatives in play.
  • Take new directors on a tour of key association facilities and introduce them to management staff and other partners when appropriate.
  • Remind them to update their online directory profiles so members know how to contact them.
Board transitions do not have to be taxing. If you follow the above guidelines, it can be an enjoyable experience that allows new board members to better understand the association, its membership, the board and the unique ways they can directly contribute to the association’s success.


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Board Forward is published 10 times a year by SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. SmithBucklin has served volunteer board members for 70 years.


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