Board induction process

It is important for new board members to know about the workings of the association and their responsibilities as a committee member.

It is good practice to provide a structured, comprehensive and practical orientation to the activities, policies and structure of the association.

Board induction is essential to ensuring that new board members become productive contributors to the Board as quickly as possible.

Roles and responsibilities

A well designed board induction process will help to ensure that new board members are aware of their roles and responsibilities and to understand the organisation's objectives and operations. It will assist new board members to more easily grasp the processes, procedures and aims of the organisation, which will in turn help to boost their confidence and decision making.

Most induction programs for board members only include a series of organisational papers. These papers typically include:

  • the constitution
  • board minutes
  • organisational charts
  • the last annual report
  • strategic plan
  • governance policies and procedures
  • governance handbook
  • copies of the past financial statements.

The major problem with this type of induction program is that it almost solely relies on the director reading masses of information that are primarily historical in nature. Whilst these documents are essential to bring the director up to speed with information, there is also the risk that the director will not be ready to contribute to the discussions and decision making of the board.

This unwillingness to contribute can often be attributed to the director feeling they do not understand the culture of the board, or that they are unsure of what they need to know or ask.

A more strategic and conscious governance induction program focuses on the key behaviours and attributes.

A well planned board induction process should ensure that the following are considered:

  • The process of decision making is explained
  • The types of values and expectations of the board are highlighted
  • The key roles of the board are discussed and what these mean in terms of expectations of the director
  • The key legal requirements of the director are discussed, and particularly what this means in terms of behaviour and expectations of the board
  • The induction program should also include the facility for the director to self-assess their knowledge in key areas, and to seek further clarification and knowledge where needed
  • A number of board induction programs include a mentor system.

Questions to ask your board about board I=induction:

  • Do we have a formal Board induction program?
  • What are the key expectations of the Board?
  • What are the critical documents I must read in the first three months?
  • Does the Board have a formal mentor system to assist new directors?
  • Who are the key people I need to meet?
Page reviewed 10 March 2021