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How this regional health board transformed new director induction to drive a culture of contribution

Mar 4, 2020 |

Introduction

Our client is a leading provider of Health and Community services in regional Victoria. Government appointments of a new chair and four new directors in recent years resulted in a reduction in organisational experience on the board. The effects of this were exacerbated by the hesitancy of the new directors to speak up, ask questions and challenge the status quo while they were learning about the organisation and its risks.

The chair, while new to clinical governance, had exceptional skills in corporate leadership, and recognised that to govern more effectively, the board needed to foster a culture of contribution and trust, and a commitment to targeted director development.

Key to achieving this was to develop an effective and tailored director induction process that quickly empowered new directors to feel more confident about their knowledge of the organisation and its risks, and ultimately to improve their ability to govern.

How Governance Evaluator helped

The board had previously benefited from building its collective governance capability over several years using the Governance Evaluator Board Governance Program. The board now turned to Governance Evaluator to provide a key input into its new director induction process; the Director Development Program, incorporating the Development & Skills Matrix evaluation.

Prior to commencing on the board each director completed the Development & Skills Matrix evaluation, after which each new director was provided with a traffic light report (Fig 1) that highlighted their areas of high individual strengths and expertise, as well as areas where development may be required.

New director development & skills matrix example
Fig 1: Example – Individual Director Development & Skills Matrix traffic light report
 

In consultation with a Governance Evaluator expert convener, the new directors were assisted to build a tailored individual induction plan to guide their immediate organisational induction requirements as well as their education, training and development priorities throughout their tenure on the board. Actions within each new director’s induction plan were linked to fact sheets as well as other online resources to help inform and educate the new director in those areas where development was required.

The information from the individual directors’ Development & Skills Matrix also enabled the chair to assign to each new director a mentor with a complementary skillset to most effectively bridge any gaps in skills and attributes. The entire process, from evaluation through to building action plans and linking to resources, was carried out within Governance Evaluator’s easy-to-use online platform.

Outcomes

Incorporating the Governance Evaluator Director Development Program into the new director induction process delivered significant benefits to the new directors, the chair and the board as a whole.

Directors found the Governance Evaluator Director Development Program interesting, intuitive and rewarding. They reported that the Development & Skills Matrix was a fast, effective way to identify strengths and weaknesses and a pathway to address any gaps. They also felt that it provided validation of the skills they brought to the board, which empowered them to find their voice earlier and contribute in a more meaningful way to board discussions.

The chair became more aware and assured about the exact mix of skills and experience across the collective board, and was able to quickly address the biggest shortfalls in organisational knowledge using tailored induction plans and mentoring. The chair appreciated that the traffic light reports and induction plans within the Governance Evaluator could be easily extracted and provided to create board reports for whole board discussions and support along with relevant government agencies to meet reporting requirements. 

The board as a whole benefited through its members being committed, engaged and more empowered to contribute, which in turn enabled the more effective governance of the organisation.

6 months on

We sat down with the 4 new directors 6 months on from commencing their Director Development Program and asked for their reflections on the process and how it has supported their ability to be a contributing member of their board.

Director Reflections

  • It is a great program for busy directors, being able to jump in and out of the online platform when you had the time, with easy to access resources and reminders of actions due to assist in keeping development on track.
  • The ability to build action plans and reflect on them as an individual, as well as a group, was extremely helpful. The addition of action plans to the board agenda for discussion and feedback was great.
  • Directors had confidence in their contribution to meetings, more quickly, by better understanding their strengths, but also the areas where they needed development.
  • The program has given directors the confidence to ask questions or seek guidance in the areas they knew they weren’t strong in
  • Directors said they were much happier in their role on the board as a result of this process

“It was such a good idea to do the skills matrix prior to commencement on the board.

The whole program set me up for success as a director” – New board director

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