Case Study: Board Away Day (in the middle of a global pandemic)

Creating connection between executive and non-executive board members

How do you run an away-day in the middle of a global pandemic? Following a PRA/FCA Audit, a long-standing client asked us to create and facilitate an away-day for their Board. The desired outcome? To unite executive and non-executive board members around aligned values, roles, and responsibilities.

Context:

It had become clear that the Board was not working as effectively as it might. In line with the organisation’s values, we were tasked with creating an intervention that would help develop better working relationships built on genuine human connection.

Approach:

Originally designed to run face to face, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were forced to create a virtual away-day. We had to re-think the design of the day, re-assessing each exercise to ensure it was sharply focused, engaging, and still able to deliver the required outcomes.

Outcome:

A mix of group video sessions and space for individual work and reflection proved engaging despite their virtual nature. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. One NED called the session ‘revelationary’. All participants appreciated the benefits of being encouraged to connect on a more human level and there was a deep commitment to keep this alive in future meetings and general communication. The key highlights included:

  • The sharing of each individual’s ‘story’, helping establish their unique attributes, credentials, and personality
  • The generation of future strategy ideas, ensuring all Board members are now fully engaged
  • A clear plan for future Executive & Board sessions, focusing on key challenges
  • The implementation of an offers and requests session to be run at the end of each meeting – encouraging engagement, personal commitment and action
  • The development of deeper, more human relationships, fostering genuine openness and trust

 

When we needed support getting our Board to work together more collaboratively, naturally, we approached Seymour John, our strategic HR partners. They really understand our business and Pip, through her expert facilitation was able to draw out key issues which were acting as blockers for us as a team. Given that, as a group, we don’t work together on a day-to-day basis, this was no easy task. Through carefully designed exercises we were able to be more open and honest with each other than we ever have before (I had feedback from some of the NEDs that they found the session transformational, for both them as individuals and us as a team). As a result of this session, we have made a commitment to find ways to connect with each other on a more human level more often – and have started to devise our business strategy as a collaborative team – something which has never happened before. And all this was done virtually too, due to the Covid pandemic! I was left feeling very impressed – and totally clear on a way forward.

Kevin Rogers, Chief Executive, Paycare

Next Steps:

The session created tangible actions, like regular ‘check-ins’ to ensure relationships continue to develop and become less transactional and more human. We are now working with this group on succession planning for the Board, while developing an initiative to identify the next generation of executives. As a result of issues highlighted, we are now supporting the Senior Leadership Team to conduct a target operating model review so their organisational structure is more aligned with PRA & FCA structures.

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