Managing fellow governor expectations and perceptions as a new Chair
Essentially all governors have the same role. Their different titles such as parent governor, staff governor, foundation governor, co-opted governor indicate their category of governance and how they came to be on the governing board and whether they were appointed or elected.
BUT within all these different roles there are as many different approaches to governance and styles of governance as there are days in a month. Each and every governor has expectations and perceptions, and these need to be managed by those leading governance, usually the Chair and Vice Chair. Seems like hard work. Well it certainly sounds like it could be!
Governance leaders need to be skilled in negotiating, solving problems, resolving conflict and influencing the desires of their members, whilst providing the necessary support level to achieve an effective board and ensure strategic intentions are realised. How can this be achieved?
Reflect on these easy to follow steps- they might help.
- Get to know your governor’s names and use their names in meetings to direct questions and queries. (This seems almost too simple to be effective, but it works). You could all wear a name tag or place name labels on card
- Introduce new members to the GB and pair them with an experienced governor. Ensure each individual governor introduces themselves and their role in a summary format to the new member eg ‘My name is Bob Jones, I am a parent governor and I work on the finance committee’. (By doing this you determine the importance of each member and affirm it and minimise the time spent on the sharing of unnecessary information)
- ·When discussions start to ramble on and are monopolised by one member of the board, (the ‘jobs worth’ governor) other fellow governors will be grateful if you pause the meeting and ask ,‘ is this helping us to realise our school vision?’ If you fail to pause these conversations then your fellow governors may start to feel you are ineffective in your role as a governance lead.
- Manage the ‘old guard’ type governors, who have ‘done this all before and it didn’t work’, by asking for their advice specifically on subjects you know they are experienced with.
- Manage the governor who rarely carries out the tasks allocated to them by acknowledging how busy they are and pair them with another governor. Always define the expectations of the selected pair, the timescales and the outcomes. Ensure these are minuted by the clerk. Check for clarity informally at the end of the meeting and ask them to summarise the task they have been requested to carry out. This opens up the less formal lines of communication to accommodate their needs.
Governance leaders must constantly reassess their own perceptions of their fellow governors and motivations and attitudes to ensure an evolving strategic landscape. There is rarely a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach meaning a range of methods must be used to achieve optimal results.