Too many companies fail to give board meetings the attention they deserve. My clients want me at their meetings partly because of the return they receive from the strategic and tactical advice that I offer based on my experience. However, I also bring structure to the meetings themselves. When the most important and influential people in your business are in the same room for a significant period of time it is important that you discuss the things which will have the greatest impact on the business – when else is that going to happen? Here is one item you should spend less time discussing and four agenda items that will be a better use of that time.
1. Too much time reviewing the past – people love to dwell on their successes, highlight how busy they have been and, in some cases, allocate blame for failures or things not happening. Other than encouraging accountability it is rare that looking back delivers anything close to the value that will be achieved from discussing what needs to be done and deciding who will be responsible for delivering it, and by when.
2. The 1 year growth plan – this is your project plan for the year. It is a step by step guide to building your business highlighting who is accountable for delivering what. Looking at the plan will keep you focused on building the business you want to build, avoiding the board getting caught up in an impulsive idea proposed and signed off during the meeting without anyone really considering it.
3. Talent pipeline – LinkedIn and a handful of jobs boards are the only recruitment businesses who can challenge the idea that their staff are not the most crucial part of the company. You need to know who you will need to deliver your plan, when they need to be in place, where you are going to find them (internal/ external (if so, where?)), how you are going to ensure they have the ability to do the job, and why they will join you (because if they are good enough to work for you other people will want them too!)
4. Cash flow – if you can’t pay your staff they will leave. Similarly, if you can’t pay other key bills your business will quickly fall apart. While cash flow is simply a question of money in versus money out, in recruitment it is particularly challenging given the payment terms with clients and commission structures. Further to ensuring you have robust revenue and cost forecasts you need to make sure invoices are going out and keep an eye on debtor days. This may sound obvious but it is not unusual for it not to happen on a consistent basis. If you foresee cash flow issues then consider factoring and invoice discounting
5. Talent retention strategies – As mentioned good staff are your company’s most valuable asset. And if they are good other companies will want to hire them. In a competitive market place you need to make sure you know what other people are offering and how you will compete. The extra time you spend discussing this in board meetings will be more than compensated for as a result of spending less time interviewing replacements.
Alex Arnot is non-executive advisor to more than 30 recruitment companies.