Managing governing body meetings
A governing body meeting should be stimulating and fun, as well as productive. There should be processes in place to avoid unnecessarily long meetings and to help focus the governing body on the important strategic matters.
Focusing on important strategic matters
A strong focus on important strategic matters can be helped by:
- effective meeting planning and strong meeting management
- appropriate, concise governing body papers
- good preparation by each governing body member
- an atmosphere that allows governing body members to ask probing questions, and
- proactive policy that prevents the governing body from needing to consider everything in an impromptu manner.
Creating governing body agendas is not a task that should be delegated to the chief executive the meeting is a governance not a management forum. The specifics of the agenda will vary from organisation to organisation, but there are three common categories under which agenda items will appear:
- Regular items all meetings commence with the same formal matters: the confirmation of a quorum, recording of attendance and apologies, and the confirmation (or amendment and subsequent confirmation) of the minutes of the previous meeting. Other regular items likely to be included are financial matters compared with budget and the previous year. Such items should be presented in a logical and consistent order to allow for easy comparison with earlier reports and also allow the comparison of actual outcomes against forecasts.
- Legal matters where the governing body has delegated authority it may wish to receive a report on the use of any such delegated power, including approval of major contracts between the organisation and third parties.
- Periodic items these items may include, for example, reviewing strategic plans and setting management goals, approving annual budgets and non-financial performance indicators and annual targets, reviewing the environment, reporting progress to owners through annual financial accounts (or where appropriate six-monthly or quarterly) and risk assessment.
Special agenda items
Special governing body meetings may be needed, or special items may be added, to scheduled meetings which may then be extended. Special agenda items may arise out of key resignations or legislative change etc.
Information provided by the chief executive
The chief executive should provide timely reports on:
- achievement of, or progress towards, strategic goals
- changes in the operating environment
- financial information, and
- the impact of the governing body's policies on its ability to do its job.
If the meeting agenda is well set and papers well researched and presented with clear recommendations, they will act as a focus for the chairperson and a change of tense may be all that is required to convert the agenda into minutes.
For further general information on running successful meetings, see Meetings.