Embedding good governance matters

Leading Governance is a professional company which supports the development of corporate boards. They regularly publish a blog and many of the topics covered there hold true for school governing boards too. Recently they published a blog which discussed what needs to be done to embed good governance in organisations. As most of this applies to the working of school governing bodies too, I am reproducing the blog below with their permission. The original post can be read here.

Embedding Good Governance in Organisational Culture – A Journey, Not A Destination

When you hear the word ‘governance’, what do you think of? Value for money? Risk and compliance? Box ticking?

If any of these spring to mind, you’re not alone. However, what good governance is really about, is developing a culture which allows your organisation to thrive.

Well-governed organisations are a joy to work for, buy from, and supply to. That’s because well-governed organisations are those that have a clear vision, a positive culture, agreed targets and expectations, great customer relations and stakeholder involvement and robust policies and procedures.

In order to develop leading governance in your organisation, you need to get a few fundamentals right, and investing a bit of time in these will reap plentiful rewards.

Get the right people
Getting the right people on your board is the first step to good governance. The only way to know you’re getting the best person for the job is to follow proper recruitment processes. Good boards are moving away from the ‘old boys’ network’, and getting someone because they’re a ‘name’. Instead, they are focusing on using proper recruitment and selection processes to get skilled candidates who will invest in their board work.

Get them to do the right thinking
Boards should be thinking strategically, and making sure that the organisation is true to its mission and values, and serving its customers and other key stakeholders well. This means focussing on having the right strategy in the first place, and then monitoring progress towards achieving objectives.

Get them asking the right questions
Boards are there to challenge and support the Chief Executive. They must ensure the organisation is financially sound, and using its resources well. They must ensure they get regular financial and progress reports, and drill down into these. It’s the board that drives the board agenda, not the Chief Executive. Board members therefore must have the confidence and insight to ask hard questions and have difficult conversations.

Get them using the right tools
Make sure you get help for your board. Board members have few opportunities for on the job training, and their duties and liabilities start from day one. Use board review processes to identify potential training needs and make sure you meet these. Set up a governance calendar to ensure everyone knows when meetings are scheduled and insist on 100% attendance at board meetings. When you need governance advice, make sure it’s from a governance specialist. There are lots of other really practical governance tools available on the http://www.leadinggovernace.com website.

Get them making the right decisions
Board members who have all the skills, experience, knowledge and information required to make decisions are more likely to make good decisions. Good board members will actively take part in the decision making process.

The recent Financial Reporting Council (FRC) report on ‘Developments in Corporate Governance and Stewardship 2014’ highlights a generally strong corporate governance culture. Given their recognition of the importance of having the right culture to great governance, it’s timely to think about the culture you want your organisation to have. Get the fundamentals right and you’ll enjoy the journey a lot more!

the governance journey web

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