Elements of an Effective Onboarding Program

Episode Summary

This is Part 2 in our series on recruiting & onboarding new directors:

  1. Tips for Recruiting and Onboarding New Directors
  2. Elements of an Effective Onboarding Program

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In Part 1 of this series, Julie Daum, Spencer Stuart’s North American Board Practice Leader, and Maria Morris, board member with S&P Global and Wells Fargo, discussed how the faces around today’s board table are changing–and the implications for recruitment and onboarding.

In this episode, Daum and Morris highlight specific onboarding practices or tactics that have proven quite effective for today’s boards. First, Daum explains why many current onboarding programs are a “vestige of the past”; they were designed to bring experienced board members up to speed on the company rather than to train a new director who may have no existing board experience.

There was a time when board members were expected to be quiet the first year, and that’s no longer the case. Boards expect people to contribute right away, and new directors want to contribute. But there’s a lot they need to learn before they can really be effective. We’re seeing a lot of new directors want to have more onboarding, and very different onboarding than they had in the past.
— Julie Daum, Spencer Stuart’s North American Board Practice Leader

Daum and Morris discuss the value of having a board mentor, whether formal or informal:

“For new directors,” said Morris, “one of the things I would say is don’t hesitate to use…the board chair or the committee chair or someone else you’ve aligned with to say, ‘What’s the protocol about how communications work [inside and] outside the boardroom?’.”

Daum outlines various elements of a modern onboarding program, while Morris offers context from her onboarding experiences with S&P Global and Wells Fargo. What advice does she offer new directors? At the conclusion, host TK Kerstetter asks both Daum and Morris to share their one “most valuable tip” when it comes to improving onboarding.

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