Why do some boards demonstrate a culture of excellence year after year, while some seem to struggle with getting directors to show up for meetings or to make important decisions? 

Why do some agencies have a waiting list of board candidates, while others (maybe yours) have to scramble each year to find someone who will join your board?

Why do some agencies seem quite visible in your area, while others (maybe yours) are rarely in the public eye?

These questions reveal symptoms of a very real problem — inadequate board training.

Board candidates are usually thrilled to be asked to serve on a board, but motivation and a big heart are not enough to ensure a successful run as a director. It takes much more. Effective service often begins only after completing new director orientation training, and it continues with periodic refresher training for existing directors.

Here are four benefits of developing effective new director orientation and periodic board retraining in your agency:

  1. Board Training Engages Board Members (New and Existing)

Creating an effective new director orientation makes it easier for officers to efficiently and more quickly contribute to the organization. They will become more comfortable with other members and understand how your agency operates.

Without such orientation, directors might silently sit back and observe the rest of the board members rather than engage with them. In fact, they might not begin to effectively engage for months, even years.

Even though new directors are often motivated and excited to begin their service, an orientation frees them to do so as early as possible. Good directors will not want to sit around very long in meetings. They will want to serve.

Let’s not forget that board training isn’t just for new directors. Offering periodic board training for existing directors is a great way to keep everyone engaged and operating as a team.

Team building is often overlooked or underutilized in new board formation. It is wise to create meaningful, team-building opportunities to ensure new and seasoned directors can get to know each other and work well as a board.

  1. Board Training Outlines Expectations and Your Organization’s Purpose

Orientation is a great opportunity to make your agency’s mission clear. Rather than assume new directors fully grasp your agency’s “Why,” take the time to review it with them.

It’s also important to help new board members understand how they contribute to your agency’s overall mission. Taking the time to explain the importance of their role helps them feel valued and that in turn will help them contribute value.

  1. Board Training Promotes Healthy Boardroom Discussions

New directors are more likely to add meaningful thoughts to boardroom discussions if they feel that they are a valued member of the team. 

Occasionally, new directors get overshadowed by other members of the board who tend to control board discussions and steer other members toward their own agenda. But boardroom discussions are not supposed to be for a few “insiders.”

Orientation and retraining can teach directors how important it is for all board members to engage in healthy and vigorous discussions together. It is essential to provide new directors with the knowledge they need to engage in such discussions before each meeting. This knowledge includes pertinent facts as well as administrative protocols.

  1. Board Training Teaches Correct Procedures, Processes, and Policies

How beneficial would it be if new directors came to meetings prepared, asked good questions, and demonstrated the moral courage to respectfully speak truth when needed?

Once trained and informed, directors will be prepared and equipped to operate within your agency’s protocols, and that increases efficiency and reduces stress for the entire board.

As you can see, a minimal time investment in new director orientation and periodic board refresher training provides significant benefits.

Need help setting up your board for success? Check out these 20 Steps to a Better 1st Board Meeting to make sure your new board members start off on the right foot.

Overwhelmed at where to start with Board Training? Built For Impact was designed for nonprofits just like yours.