Advisory Board and Board of Directors Tips

Cerius Executives had a talk with some of the leading experts on advisory board and board of directors. We asked them what advice and tips they had for running an effective board

Create a transparent & communication-based environment

Marissa Levin is a renowned authour, speaker and expert on boards. She shares knowledge of her expertise in a column in Smart CEO magazine, TED talks and has also written a book on creating exceptional advisory boards. Marissa’s first company is Information Experts, a 20 year old multi-million dollar government contracting firm. In her company, Marissa created a very collaborative and transparent environment.

Any time changes are being made in the organization, employees feel vulnerable and want to know whether or not they will be affected in some way. Whether its small changes like bringing in a new employee or customer, or the big changes like changing policy or introducing a new partner. Either way, the people within your organization want to know what’s going on.

Marissa says, “I think it’s very important for the CEO and the executive team to have very honest and transparent communication with the entire organization.” Building an advisory board is bound to bring new changes within the company. So it is imperative that the upper management communicate the news to the overall organization. It is better for the internal customers to hear news directly from their seniors rather than from whispered rumours. It will build trust between the employees and the management and create a loyal and friendly environment.

Also, leave a window of about 30-45 minutes open for the employees in advisory board meetings. During that time they can come in and ask questions from the board or just sit in and observe what’s going on. This is a method Marissa adopted in her company, making it extremely communication based and transparent

Associate the board into the company

Your advisory board or board of directors will be facilitating decisions for your company. It is best that from the very beginning you associate them into the company. Make plans and find ways for the company’s workforce to get to know the new board and vice versa.

“We really made a conscious effort to associate them in,” said Marissa of the time when she introduced an advisory board in her company. “They would attend all hands meeting, they would attend social events like our holiday parties. Prior to when they came on we made sure that had business cards for them… So when they were out in public, they were really representing the brand and our company was on top of mind with them.”

To associate them in methodically, have all the board members be aware of what their role and responsibilities are on the board. They should know what is expected of one another and have no surprises. The goal is to create lasting relationships that can extend beyond the board room. Also, be sure to have all your legal documents in place and to keep a methodical system in running the board. That way they will better adjust when they see that there is an effective strategy in place.

As Marissa said, associating an advisory board into a company the right way “could be a very strong recruitment and retention tool.”

Get a board sooner than later

Ginger Silverman has served on advisory boards and boards of directors for private, public and non-profit companies including Norco Delivery Services, IVIU technologies, Cutagenesis, Oroscience, and Susan G Komen. She is a 25 year veteran specializing in marketing and regeneration.

She encourages anybody who doesn’t currently have a board of advisors to “consider doing it sooner rather than later.” One of the biggest comforts of having an advisory board is that you no longer feel alone. This is especially something that family-owned business owners feel. They often feel like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders and they have nobody to look to for help. In Ginger’s experience, she has seen how advisory boards add great value to companies. Business owners have a sounding board of smart people whom they can trust and help contribute to the organization’s growth.

Ginger said, “If you’ve got the right advisory board, you’re not alone and you’ve got folks there that can, will have your back and that can actually help you get further into the future.”

Have insurance for the board

Jeff has served in the board of directors at Edelbrock Corporation for 10 years. He was also a member of the executive, compensation and audit committees. His advice to board members is that they make sure a director’s insurance is in place. A company should have professional liability insurance for their boards.

Pam Wasley, CEO of Cerius Executives, also has a word of advice for non-profit board: “On a non-profit board typically they have insurance, make sure you get a copy of the certificate or they show you proof.”

Jeff’s experience serving on boards has been gratifying. He urges anybody considering the place of a board member that they take it. He said, “It’s a very rewarding experience being a part of a board or an advisory board and it allows you the opportunity to input your thoughts and ideas on how to adjust the company growing.”

Finding an advisor has never been easier or more reliable. Visit Cerius Advisors to learn how.  Avoid painful lessons learned. Talk to someone who has already been down the road before you.

Learn how we can help your business grow profitably today.