Talentsage, Wednesday 12 August 2020

Talent Sage Board derailment

Governance: back channels in the boardroom

How to prevent side conversations between directors from blocking progress?

If you’ve ever served on a board, you know the feeling: The regular meeting has ended, you have lots you still need to talk about, but the next meeting isn’t for months. Maybe you’ve got questions about a complex technical issue there wasn’t time to dig into during the meeting. Maybe you need to discuss sensitive information that can’t be shared with the whole board. Maybe you just want a reality check on something. Whatever it is, you feel it can’t wait, so you do what members of a team always do in this situation: You start having conversations on the side.

Side conversations can be enormously valuable. Conducted properly, they allow teams to work together smoothly and efficiently—to trade opinions, exchange information, and exert influence. But if you’ve served on a board, you also know that such discussions can cause trouble. Conducted improperly, they can encourage political maneuvering, marginalize members with key expertise, foster inappropriate alliances, and lead to poor decisions. Instead of making the team better, they can make it dysfunctional.

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