2020 saw trustees challenged in many ways, not least as they had to work virtually to make difficult decisions and ensure their organisations were governed effectively. Most fared well, but some boards saw the dynamics change and trustee relationships deteriorate. This was not surprising, as trustees, like everyone else, had to look at responding to the crisis in new ways. They had to oversee delivering services, finding funding, and protecting their beneficiaries at a time when they also had their own personal anxieties, isolation and stress. Existing conflicts were exacerbated and new problems arose that were difficult to solve in a socially distanced world where body language and social cues were lost in virtual meetings.
But strong working relationships and teamwork are key to good governance, so in the next Good Governance Webinar we will look at how board behaviour is key to your organisation’s success, and how trustees can build a positive board culture. And, if it all goes wrong, how mediation can help diffuse board tensions.
A good Chair and trustees being clear about their roles and responsibilities will help build trust and mutual respect. Give time for team building activities, and make sure you have three vital tools of good governance to use as reference points if you’re facing difficulties on your board:
- A Register of Interests signed by all trustees will help keep track of the different boards and financial interests everyone has.
- Trustees must put the interests of their organisation before their own, and those of any other organisation, but conflicts of interest can and do come up. So make sure you have an agreed Conflict of Interest policy.
- Are your trustees clear about how they should behave in meetings and when they represent your organisation? Does everyone know what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour? All trustees should sign up to a Code of Conduct to keep them on the straight and narrow.
But what do you do when you have these tools in place, but relationships have broken down and your board is on the rocky road to ruin? Squabbling and internal power struggles can destroy an organisation, and that’s where mediation can help. Our Good Governance Webinar will feature May Millward from Scottish Mediation to outline ways to resolve board disagreements and disharmony. May set up the Third Sector Mediation Service in partnership with SCVO, which for many years has helped voluntary organisations and charities create a space to resolve conflict.
So come along to our Good Governance webinar on 3 March to find out how you can diffuse board tensions, deal with personality clashes, improve communications and build positive board relationships. It’s part of our new SCVO Trustee Network which we’ve launched to provide support and guidance for trustees across Scotland.