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What do relationships have to do with an effective board of directors in 2018?

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Often in business, skills, knowledge and experience are of the utmost importance and are what most interview processesaim to ascertain. Whilst skills and experience in a similar role can be a great asset and potentially mean less time spent on training, it doesn’t necessarily mean the core behavioural attributes are present to create strong and effective relationships within your existing team.

Effective communication and decision making on a board is an essential element that can be made possible through the kinds of relationships present within the group. After all, relationships and communication underpin most of what we do in life. When our relationships with others contain trust, mutual respect, open communication, diversity and understanding, the results are evident.

Therefore, when recruiting for non-executive director roles, it can be useful to look at your role requirements in direct contrast to your existing board members – are there any gaps to fill? What behaviours are needed to bridge them? What behaviours will add value to the existing team? If you’ve lost a member of the team with a strong personality that worked well for the group, it’s worth looking for someone similar. However, if that person caused unhealthy conflict within the team, perhaps review what else might be more beneficial.

Here are some of the attributes that are fundamental considerations when assessing your non-executive role requirements, in order to create healthy and harmonious relationships that will drive your business forward in the right direction.

Communication

Sound communication is at the heart of every solid relationship. Defining what style of communication is required for each role within the board will directly impact the potential success of the relationships that will later develop. Some of the behavioural attributes that enable healthy relationship foundations include, but are not limited to:

Flexibility – being able to adapt the style of the communication to the individual person

Rigid thinking can often be a cause of conflict as subsequent behaviours tend to include refusal to adapt and change to certain situations. Empathy – the ability to step outside of your own thoughts and feelings and acknowledge another’s perspective

Feedback – openly providing qualitative feedback with an openness to receiving and acting on others

Staying silent about something that you disagree leads to a build-up of emotions. When these are not expressed in a healthy way, conflict and disputes are likely to increase. Understanding the need to evidence opinions can also transform communications from being personal to mutually beneficial.

Ownership – taking responsibility for own actions

A constant to need to blame others can be quite destructive in a team environment. Being able to acknowledge your actions and accept your part to play in the grand scheme of things, can be the difference between hostility and harmony.

Collaboration – a willingness to work together with others to achieve a common goal

There is no place for solidarity within a team environment. Being inclusive towards others opens up a respectful and receptive connection and exchange.

Forgiveness – accepting others mistakes and being able to move positively forward

Holding grudges can be toxic in any situation and will have an impact on the forming and cementing of relationships.

·        Self-awareness – able to analyse own behaviours, access impact and adapt where required

Relying on others feedback alone can be tricky, so being able to have an awareness of your own behaviours and how they directly impact others can do wonders in supporting healthy team relationships.

Diversity

Within the dynamics of any team function, diversity is crucial. What does diversity bring? Differences of opinion, a range of ideas and perspectives and overall a healthy balance of strengths. If in your experience, a difference of opinion has been viewed as something negative, rest assured this is a very positive quality for healthy discussions and decision making. Of course, this is only possible when strong relationships are present.

Trust

To establish trust within a team it’s important to set common boundaries and agreed ways of working from the outset. Some of these may include; listening when someone else is talking, respecting different opinions, timekeeping etc. This is an exercise that can be reviewed when any new team members join, to ensure all viewpoints and individuals feel heard and involved.

Transparency

Often conflict can come as a result of not understanding the bigger picture and reasons behind given decisions. To avoid this problem, transparent communication is required. If everyone understands not just the problem, but it’s routes and potential implications, coming to a beneficial solution will become much easier for the group as a whole.

Play

Some of the best ways to ignite good relationships can be through social interaction. In general, it is well worth making time for both work and play, ensuring this is something that is naturally integrated and welcomed by all of the board.




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