They say it takes a village. Well in my experience, while the ‘village’ is certainly critical, the villagers can be pretty needy and frustrating to have to deal with. They always want updates on what’s going on, they think they know the answer to everything even if they don’t have all the information, and even though they want to help out, it can feel like they’re just getting in the way!
But the thing is with your village is that you’re stuck with them. They’re not going anywhere so you need to consider their needs and respond accordingly. And it’s the same thing with the boards that you serve on.
Your board directors are not the only ones that live in the ‘village’ that is your organization. You have many other stakeholders who are not part of the formal, voting board. Ex officio members and board advisors are the first people who come to mind. These are people who serve your board in some capacity and who have a formal relationship usually dictated by your bylaws.
However, there are also stakeholders within your organization with whom the board’s relationship is less structured. They might not have clear insight into the board’s vision and mission and they might not have access to the same institutional knowledge that other stakeholders do. It’s these ‘villagers’ that can come across as needing a little more attention that you’d like or have time to provide. The good news is that you can use a board portal, like the NXTBoard Platform, to make managing the relationship with these stakeholders much easier.
Below I’ve listed a few of these ‘villagers’ and what you need to know about them in order to meet their needs:
- The village “know it all”
- This is your counsel. These stakeholders need some insight into how you make your decisions. They might know how they think you function, but sometimes peeling back a little layer, and giving them some insight into how you actually do things, can make the world of difference. You can achieve this by giving them access to your organization’s institutional knowledge. Add them as a temporary user to your board portal so that they can access the files and content that will add value to their roles.
- The nosy neighbor
- This is your CPA. The stakeholder whose role it is to know the ins and outs of your financial decisions – like the neighbor who wants to know if you recycle or not. Giving them access to your board portal is like throwing away your trash in a clear container. It’s still your container but you’re enabling this person to see exactly what you’re doing… and if you’re doing it right.
- The parents
- These are your funders. These stakeholders often check in (sometimes without you knowing) on the progress of how the money they’ve given you is being spent. They want to make sure that their money is being spent the way you promised it would. You can help ease their minds by giving them access to your board reports that show progress towards the goals that their money is helping fund.
- The in-laws
- These are your individual funders. The people who hesitantly might have given because you have shown yourself to be a trustworthy organization. But while the funds they have given you may be unrestricted in what they are to be used for, they might still want to make sure they are used for the right reasons – to help in achieving your vision and mission – not purchasing that snowmobile that you had always wanted! Again, you can give these stakeholders access to your board reports so that they can see the progress you’re making against your goals.
- The corner store owner
- Your executive assistant. The glue that holds your village… or organization… together. The person who knows what tools you need for the job, what ingredient you’re lacking or can get you what you need pronto! This stakeholder often does not get the credit they need. A board portal can make this person’s life infinitely easier. From scheduling meetings to assembling board packets, a board portal can save this person time and effort.
- The town clerk’s office
- The executive director. This is the person in your village that pulls all the strings. This stakeholder has the ability to talk for the organization, does all the work to make things go smoothly but often does not have a voice in the vote. This person can influence decisions by talking to the right people. This person has institutional and organizational knowledge to make others look good. And this person is in charge of driving your strategic plan. You can use a board portal that includes strategic planning features to assist in the recruitment, management and assessment of this stakeholder.
- The chief of police
- This stakeholder is your board chair. And like any police chief they are charged with following and enforcing the rules. A well-managed, well-organized board has these rules in place and a board portal enables you to make these rules, or policies, available and visible to everyone. This allows the board chair to stay within guidelines to operate and gives them the ability to use the board portal as a central reminder of the rules as and when needed.
Knowing that your board is bigger than its’ voting members will help you understand why centralizing your institutional knowledge and strategic plans is so important. It will save you time… and stress… in finding and sharing the files, reports and documents that are needed to meet the needs and requirements of your stakeholders.