Bringing first-time NEDs on board

Article by Audeliss

For SMEs, the appointment of a non-executive director can be a fast-track to industry insight; an injection of commercial wisdom straight to the heart of their strategy. As well as providing constructive criticism and guidance from above, NEDs come with a vast collection of potential introductions through a rich and diverse network they’ve cultivated in their professional career.

Bringing a non-executive on board allows business owners to focus on the day-to-day challenges while their NED acts as a sounding board, raising any red flags or exciting opportunities on the horizon. Naturally, non-executive directors require a range of skills to be effective and successful in the Boardroom. But everyone has to start somewhere. A lack of boardroom experience may be concerning to some business leaders, but those still in their executive careers can add value to a skills-based board. If you’re opting for a rookie NED, you may want to take note of the following tips:

Communicate your expectations early

Businesses benefit from NEDs who actively contribute outside meetings, not just someone who shows up for the monthly update. While they may have shown potential in their executive career, new NEDs enter a new territory when they join a board in an advisory capacity. Understanding exactly what’s expected of them prior to their appointment will be essential in the long-term success of a new non-executive director, so don’t hesitate to communicate your expectations early on.

Encourage NEDs to leave their comfort zone

While first-time NEDs are equipped with expertise within a particular discipline, the contribution of a non-executive director should transcend beyond their functional specialism. Encouraging them to focus on elements beyond their comfort zone will help to boost their confidence and drive the right behaviour in the long-term. New NEDs will have to sharpen their commercial acumen and board members would do well to impart the wisdom they offer from their own experience.

Set the boundaries 

As you set the bar on your expectations, ensure to set the tone. A good non-executive is able to challenge without being confrontational; they don’t turn every board meeting into a shouting match between NEDs and management. There are certain interpersonal skills that a new non-executive will develop through experience in the role, but being candid about the level of input you wish them to have in the business from the very beginning will make all the difference.

Create a strong induction plan

Rookie NED’s may be ready for the challenge, but don’t mistake enthusiasm for experience. Any non-executive who is new to the role will require a robust induction plan that allows them to get to grips with the ins and outs of the organisation. If you’ve recruited externally rather than nurturing from within, your new NED will need time to learn about the business and the customer-base before they can start advising on key decisions and adding value to the boardroom. Choosing a non-executive to bring on board is by no means a decision that should be taken lightly – after all, they may not have executive duties, but a strong NED can steer a business to victory through strategic guidance. At Audeliss, we pride ourselves on the vast network of highly experienced NEDs that we have cultivated over the years:however, we can also connect you with high-potential first-timers eager to add to their NED portfolio. Opting for the latter may be a long-term investment,but with the right approach, a new NED can be the catalyst to commercial success.

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