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    • #7102
      Walter PreugschasWalter Preugschas
      Participant

      Our GM has had the view that he reports to the board on behalf of senior leadership. We had several months without a GM and the board became involved with the senior leadership team out of necessity. Our new interim GM takes a similar stance in that the board should not be involved with the SLT members. Our Board understands that it is not to be involved in operations but want to understand operations from the view of those leaders. Comments??

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    • #7105
      Louis-H. CampagnaLouis-H. Campagna
      Participant

      Consider Succession Planning. I assume we agree that one of the most important responsibilities of a Board is selecting the next GM (or CEO, etc.). Thought I think it is important that the current Management leader has some input in the choice of the successor, I think it is critical that the Board has the actual final say in the matter — and not as a rubber stamo, mind you.

      A GM (or CEO) successor can be found internlly or externally. Both approaches present advantages and challenges, and the choice of one or the other depends a lot on current organization culture and circumstances, as well as on the strategic outlook. The Board has a lot ridding on choosing a Management successor.

      External selection can be effectively supported by way of an external HR consultant. As for an internal promotions, I think it is the duty of any Board to get to know the senior management team, at least down to the third layer where such a layering exists. By getting to know our Management people — there strengths and challenges –, a Board is all the better prepared to judge if someone on the inside is a proper fit for the top job when the time comes. And, as you may well know, that succession time can happen over a well planned out, one year process, or it can practically occur overnight. Be prepared.

      A Board getting to know its senior management team down two or three layers is excellent practice in my opinion. Have these people do Board presentations. Meet them during social events. Have the CEO provide periodic reports about his leadershio team. If your GM or CEO isn’t open and confortable with this, then your Board has an issue to contend with right there, IMHO.

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    • #7109
      Desiree VandenhovenDesiree Vandenhoven
      Participant

      Walter you need to discuss as a board what you guys like to hear from the SLT. If you want updates, request them.
      It is good to build relationships with them.
      After our amalgamation we worked hard to get to know each other ‘outside’of work as well, this really strenghtened our relationship within the board and with our GM and SLT.
      Host a bbq this summer and have them over for a social.

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    • #7136
      Jen BudneyJen Budney
      Participant

      Hi Walter,

      You ask a great question – and a really important one. One of the most common problems witnessed in boards is violations of the board/management line with staff (which includes everyone below the CEO), so your former CEO and your interim CEO are right to be wary here.

      Problems can include board members going to see managers below the CEO to “find out what’s going on” and discussing substantive matters with them; board members copying staff on communications between board members or the board and CEO; board members insisting on being involved in the hiring senior managers reporting to the CEO; board chairs assuming the CEO’s authority and responsibilities, even as the CEO is present; individual directors (board members) instructing staff on operational matters; boards excluding management on strategic planning; and more.

      All of these behaviours create confusing over who is “steering the boat”. How does the board hold the CEO accountable if the board is taking on some of the CEO’s functions?

      While a disengaged board is also a danger, the board should not be expected to understand the day-to-day operations as well as the CEO does. Rather, as we will explore in later modules in this course, boards are most effective when they develop mutual respect and a strong, respectful relationship with the CEO, when they ensure that there is trust between the CEO and the board, and when they communicate in a way that encourages candour and a spirit of open enquiry and dissent.

      When the board starts dealing with senior managers as direct hires and employees of the Board, the negative consequences can be very serious: the CEO’s authority is diminished, and a signal is sent that the board doesn’t fully trust this individual; the CEO also cannot be held fully accountable if operational decisions are being made by the Board; senior managers may begin to feel that they are accountable to the Board and not to the CEO, which can create a nightmare web of confused communications and motivations; and the Board can become distracted from its actual purpose.

      All this is to say that the Board should be very cautious in dealing with senior management. Developing relationship with these individuals may seem innocuous at first, but in time it can lead to a souring of the relationship between Boards and the CEO, which ultimately will diminish the performance of the organization. This holds true no matter the size of your organization, as we will explore a little bit in this course later on.

      Thanks for the great question!

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    • #7137
      Jen BudneyJen Budney
      Participant

      Hi Walter,

      You ask a great question – and a really important one. One of the most common problems witnessed in boards is violations of the board/management line with staff (which includes everyone below the CEO), so your former CEO and your interim CEO are right to be wary here.

      Problems can include board members going to see managers below the CEO to “find out what’s going on” and discussing substantive matters with them; board members copying staff on communications between board members or the board and CEO; board members insisting on being involved in the hiring senior managers reporting to the CEO; board chairs assuming the CEO’s authority and responsibilities, even as the CEO is present; individual directors (board members) instructing staff on operational matters; boards excluding management on strategic planning; and more.

      All of these behaviours create confusion over who is “steering the boat”. How does the board hold the CEO accountable if the board is taking on some of the CEO’s functions?

      While a disengaged board is also a danger, the board should not be expected to understand the day-to-day operations as well as the CEO does. Rather, as we will explore in later modules in this course, boards are most effective when they develop mutual respect and a strong, respectful relationship with the CEO, when they ensure that there is trust between the CEO and the board, and when they communicate in a way that encourages candour and a spirit of open inquiry and dissent.

      When the board starts dealing with senior managers as direct hires and employees of the Board, the negative consequences can be very serious: the CEO’s authority is diminished, and a signal is sent that the board doesn’t fully trust this individual; the CEO also cannot be held fully accountable if operational decisions are being made by the Board; senior managers may begin to feel that they are accountable to the Board and not to the CEO, which can create a nightmarish web of confused communications and motivations; and the Board can become distracted from its actual purpose.

      All this is to say that the Board should be very cautious in dealing with senior management. Developing relationship with these individuals may seem innocuous at first, but in time it can lead to a souring of the relationship between Boards and the CEO, which ultimately will diminish the performance of the organization. This holds true no matter the size of your organization, as we will explore a little bit in this course later on.

      Thanks for the great question!

      • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Jen BudneyJen Budney.
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    • #7383
      Alexa CreelmanAlexa Creelman
      Participant

      This has sparked an interesting discussion to follow.

      I have a follow up question for @Jen Budney:

      You highlight the importance of maintaining separation of the rest of the SLT from the Board. I understand and support your explanation. I also think @Louis H Campagna made an excellent point about succession planning and the importance of the board developing some form of connection of the rest of the SLT to have an understanding of the internal candidates if/when the time called for a new CEO. What is the balance that should be struck here?

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    • #7393
      Walter PreugschasWalter Preugschas
      Participant

      These are all good points. How to have the balance??

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    • #7405
      Jen BudneyJen Budney
      Participant

      Alexa and Walter – I think that balance will be different from organization to organization, and yes, I completely agree with Louis-H that succession planning is a major board responsibility, often but not always shared with the CEO. Getting to know members of senior management below the CEO can be a way of identifying talent and develop candidates for the CEO position. And yes, if a CEO is absolutely resistant to this, there is clearly a problem of lack of trust – however, this is not necessarily the CEO’s fault, and — as in any relationship — blame can usually be shared. So until a strong relationship of trust is built between the Board (and particularly the Chair) and the CEO, attempts by the Board to work with senior management below the CEO will be fraught. Find out how to build trust with the CEO first. And if *this is impossible, then it must be dealt with first. And while Boards are increasingly taking a larger role in appointment of the CEO, too much involvement with senior managers in the grooming and vetting process can sometimes lead to dysfunctional “horse races” that pit potential candidates against each other. Senior managers might become overly preoccupied with the impression they are giving, or taking sides and attributing business decisions to political motives, etc. So again, balance is key – and not easy.

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    • #7421
      Walter PreugschasWalter Preugschas
      Participant

      Thanks for all the thoughts, Jen and others.

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