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Development for the Board of Directors – What works well in your company


I am HR/Training Officer for a FMCG UK company with 370 employees. I have been tasked by my MD with benchmarking development interventions for Directors to see what has worked well in other companies and what hasn't.

Our Directors have their own development needs but seem to have been left out of the T&D loop.

Would anyone from a similar sized company like to share their good and bad experiences of Directors Development?
Joanne McMeekin

5 Responses

  1. Maturity matters
    Hi Joanne,

    I would be happy to share my experiences. Please give me a call on 07957 604 783 if you would like to discuss.

    The upshot is that I embarked on a Development programme with our Directors last year which consisted of a series of 1:1 psychometrics culminating in a workshop to look at team effectiveness. I still believe the Programme itself was of good quality (we used an external consultancy) but its effectiveness was limited because the individuals lacked the necessary maturity to raise their self-awareness and act on the feedback they received. I am now struggling to identify how we move on so any other experiences will be valuable to me too.


  2. Bio-energetics may be useful
    I am not so sure that the size of the organisation matters, as I have worked at board level with large corporation (50,000+) and small (less than 50 employees). I observe the same behaviour, which is a belief that having made it up to a senior level, there is very little that they think they need to learn, and I agree with the point of maturity, but it does not appear to be age related. I would suggest the first step is to get directors to acknowledge that they are capable of making mistakes, but focus on the positive outcomes they can achieve at a personal level, and possibly consider getting them to focus on ‘How they can be more efficient’, and suggest that if training means either they can get home early or be more productive with the 80 hour week they work, then they can see the upside.
    My view is that board directors are senior managers who should be managing in the most effective way, and therefore we should be looking at the ability within them to do some of the following:
    ‘Knowing what their corporate vision/mission statement really means in terms of actual deliverables’ – this should be from both an internal and external perspective. Also developing a level of trust down the management chain. if they do not have the trust/faith from the rest of the management team then this needs to be addressed.
    In terms of how do we help these people understand where they do not ahcieve as much as they believe they should, then it most likely comes down to addressing their issues on a one to one basis.
    I have done some reading on the work that Cranfield has done on Bio-energetics which works with management to pin-point the historical mindsets of people,to try and allow individuals discover what it is in their pysche that makes some people in their team like them, while others do not. There are general books available on bio-energetics, but the Cranfield stuff seems to focus on what I understand you are trying to achieve. (Not sure how you get hold of documentation, without attending the training at Cranfield).
    As for their knowledge gap, then (not being an expert), I expect that comes down to a method of matching their understanding of business acumen to the needs to the organisation. So possibly take something such as MBA baseline material and see what gaps appear with this as a starting reference.

    Start with the concept that Everyone can improve, and get them to buy into personal not just business focussed differences you can make, and decide how you make yourself credible as a ‘mentor’ to their development.

    I hope this takes you a bit further down the road of success with your program of development.

  3. Development for the Board of Directors
    Hi Joanne,

    I believe that when developing Directors, there is a greater need than ever to link the development to improvements in their personal and, subsequently, business performance. I have found that a mix of team based work involving all the directors combined with 1:1 coaching programmes works well.

    If you would like to talk this through, please give me a call.


    0788 079 0815

  4. Director Development
    Hi All,

    I agree with what Pete was saying about bio-energetics, I believe it is an important starting point.

    There have been measured effects in this particular area that have seen increased sales by an average of 40%, improved staff retention by an average of 150% and reduced customer churn rates by an average of 50%, improving key account contracts average order value by 40% and establishing consultancy or higher customer relationship management revenues at an average increase of 150%.

    20% of managers have moved up into higher management roles within three months of undertaking this type of training/development, and a total of 80% have improved their team’s performance and achieved their personal and commercial goals.

    The personal goals are as important as the commercial ones. This is where the bio-enegetics part comes into play, and the results can be quite stunning and almost immediate.

    I have some info on the cranfield bio-energetics that Pete mentioned and on how to achieve the above results.

    Drop me an email.

  5. Director Development

    I Chair a couple of companies and am NED of several more, and Director-development is especially close to my heart! So some broad thoughts here – and more if you would like to contact me direct?
    1. Many Directors do not know what they don’t know – first challenge! (They may well also not want to acknowledge this!!)
    2. Many Directors see ‘their team’ as being their *functional* team – not the Board itself. A very BIG 2nd challenge!
    3. The skills and qualities that took them to the Board are almost certainly not the (only) ones that will take them further…

    I am very sympathetic to Antionette Gaskell and the issue of Director maturity – as I too have taken quite a few Boards through 1:1 and then team profiling and the like, only to find that some did not have the maturity to handle the benefits they might have had to address the above!

    So what I do now is a mixture of the 1:1 and team profiling work (I favour MBTI and FIRO-B in particular – possibly KAI in some circs) as above – AND
    a) 1:1 confidential corporate SWOT analyses, first discussed privately and then second, aggregated non-attributably for externally facilitated Board discussion of the global results
    b) a group revisit of the core Mission, Vision and Values; what works, what doesn’t, and several key strategy-development tools – all to check everyone shares the same objectives
    c) the offer of confidential, 1:1 coaching with an independent, which is always ‘voluntary’ but also ‘hard to resist’…

    This has worked really well for all the companies I am involved with at this level – although of course it requires some flexibility and the building of very strong personal relationships and trust with any outside provider you may care to use!

    I hope this helps?

    Best wishes

    Jeremy Thorn
    QED Consulting
    01302 761222


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