The job of the agency is to achieve the mission in a prudent and ethical way. The job of the Board is to make certain contributions to the total that are unique to its public trusteeship role and necessary for proper governance and management of the corporation.
The responsibilities of the E3 Board fall into the following fundamental framework of major items which when taken together form a kind of “job description”. This work needs to be done or reviewed each and every year; and there is potentially significant proactive work on the part of the Board in looking forward rather than analyzing the status quo.
Assume Moral Ownership
The Board needs to get to know its member base better with the idea of developing ends or goals consistent with the needs of its stakeholders generally.
Link to Membership
The Board will seek to ascertain the views and wishes of the membership so it can more properly represent their views and reach stated objectives. Links to the membership can happen by way of surveys, meetings or other methodology. These links must be an ongoing exercise every year to remain current.
Establish Governing Policies
The Board should concentrate on establishing Board policies as opposed to administrative policies of the agency. These Board policies set the Board’s accountability in a framework under which all other policies must be derived. E3 establishes four major policies as follows:
- An Objectives Policy to identify what the organization wishes to achieve in the broadest terms. This usually emanates from the mission statement or statement of objectives of the organization.
- A Policy to define Board governance modality sets out a governing manner, job description and meeting process which helps members understand how decisions are made and how staff/board relationships operate, among other things,
- An Executive Limitations Policy sets clear guidelines and limitations for the CEO around ethics, legalities, financial flexibility and Mission focus. In this way the Board can be accountable at the highest level without having to understand and deal with every policy or issue and approve every decision. It also gives the CEO freedom to act as long as it is within the bounds of the Limitations Policy of the Board.
- A Board/CEO Relationship Policy creates well defined parameters around reporting relationships, performance evaluations, decision-making capacities and so on. This is a critical variable in the overall operations of an organization. The Board, through the Executive Committee, will build a strong relationship with the CEO to help navigate changing circumstances, staff succession, Board member succession and a plethora of challenges which confront the agency annually.
Provide Leadership and Advocacy
The Board will spend more time defining issues which present barriers to progress (advocacy) and then communicate the importance of a resolution to these issues to relevant stakeholders including government. When there are shortages of resources, political barriers or directives and policies adversely affecting the goals and objectives of the organization, the Board must identify when and where change can be affected through advocacy, negotiation, resistance or any number of other measures to promote the needs of the people supported. This is a very critical role for the Board and one which staff often cannot engage in effectively.
Develop and Review Strategic Planning
The long term view for an organization must be a primary focus for the Board. The organization should have a strategic direction and modify it as necessary from time to time. This exercise must include stakeholders, staff and Board taking into account the need and ability to bring new resources into the service spectrum
Assume Responsibility for Generating New Agency Revenues
The Board will review fundraising needs annually and determine the future direction of means and ends. The actual work can be done each year either directly or through delegation either to committee or the CEO.
With the help of a Board Accountability Checklist, the Board can monitor the overall progress of the agency on a range of different primary accountabilities including quality assurance, financial management, Human Resources management and so on.
Board and CEO Evaluation
Each year it is helpful for the Board to engage in self-evaluation in order to fulfill its responsibilities and fulfill its primary functions to the “owners”. This self evaluation is done through a Board member survey. Feedback is collected, summarized and recommendations for change are added to the Board Accountability Checklist for follow up and implementation.
The Board through the Executive Committee also reviews the performance of the CEO as directly connected to the performance of the agency’s achievement of ends or goals; and the CEO’s ability to stay within the overarching policies of the Board as set out in Executive Limitations and other policies. A description of the CEO Performance Evaluation is within the Board CEO Relationship Policy.