Altus Dynamics Blog

Greater Governance for Better School Boards: 3 Actionable Tips

Posted by Nicola Dickinson on Nov 13, 2015 9:00:00 AM

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 We know that good governance means you’ve got a good framework for decision-making, set responsibilities and roles for employees and constituents, and a mission to provide students with an education that will set them up for success.

But what about great governance? Taking that extra step towards pique performance boils down to two key factors: is your school board organized, and is your integrity always at 100%?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell. No two school boards govern the exact same way. Governance guidelines are based on anything from past practice to by-law rules to pure policy. There’s no baseline for what creating good governance looks like. Only a set of expectations that you need to fulfill, and a checklist of results that should be coming to fruition.

So here are some actionable tips for maintaining great governance:

1. Maintain Clarity

Roles, responsibilities, and goals should always be outlined with the steps it will take to produce prime productivity. Do your employees have departmental and personalized goals? Is your mission ccommunicated during onboarding, and afterwards? Are your rules and policies accessible, and clearly laid out? Are you always improving your communication skills and departmental processes?

The first step to maintaining a productive, effective work environment is making sure your expectations are set, clear, and met. That way, you can make sure there are plans in place that ensure you’re reaching your goals. Maybe you need to invest in new software for budgeting. Maybe you need to create methods for receiving feedback from students on the quality of their education. When goals are clear, surpassing them is instantly easier.

2. Ensure Transparency

If you promote transparency at your school board, you’re also promoting integrity. In the grand scheme of things, it’s important that you track your compliance with provincial statutes, regulations, and fiduciary responsibilities. Make sure you’re working with systems that make compliance requirements easy to maintain, and not bogging your administrators down with complicated processes that might lower their morale—and their output.

But the importance of transparency doesn’t stop there. Promote a transparent environment between your employees, and between different departments and roles. Allowing employees to have access to your organization’s information means you're committing to maintaining a system that works for you. You're also committing to having information that’s up to date, precisely maintained, and consistently compliant.

3. Commit to Meticulousness

Meticulousness doesn’t always mean taking a long time. The most meticulous organizations do whatever they can to become efficient. Find the processes and systems that make the work fly by, and that help to make long processes accessible. It shouldn’t take you days to compile reports. You don’t have to deal with long file libraries that keep on crashing. And switching between disparate programs and sources to find the information you need will only slow you down.

Did you know that employees spend 30-40% of their workday < http://www.thepaperlessproject.com/facts-about-paper-the-impact-of-consumption/> looking for information in files and emails? Think of all the time they could be working on their responsibilities if you cut this percentage down. This ties back to #1! If you’re missing your goals, it’s time to look for better solutions. If you’re achieving them, it’s time to find the methods that will help you move forward. The road to greatness is paved with billboards that read, “Never settle for less!”

If you don’t produce good governance, what do you have to lose? A lot, actually: the people that make your organization what it is and, in worst case scenarios, sometimes even your reputation. Having unhappy, overworked employees leads to compromised, rushed work. And that could reflect badly on you. If you want an effective organization, give your employees knowledge, support, and clarity. And if you draw the unlucky audit card, you need to be able to be prepared—not scared

Want to find out how you can make sure you’re moving towards great governance? Take a look at our 2015 Essential Guide to Improving School Board Operations.

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This Post Was Written By Nicola Dickinson
Nicola Dickinson is a Founding Partner at Sparkrock. She formed Sparkrock with a vision and mandate to deliver award-winning, meaningful and affordable technology solutions exclusively for the non-profit and public sector. With a passion for assisting non-profit and public sector, she provides true value by being an active member of the non-profit community.
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