It may be tempting to call off or postpone board meetings during a crisis and wait for things to settle down. While that may be the easiest thing to do, it’s not necessarily the best strategy. It’s essential during times of crisis to consider that a lot of people are relying on you—your staff, your beneficiaries, your community, and more. However, this isn’t the time to be passive. Perhaps more than ever before, it’s important for boards to act and lead during times of crisis.
During a crisis, boards need to set aside their busy schedules and work together proactively to meet the emerging needs of their organizations. They will continue to need to have regular conference calls until things begin to stabilize and return to normal.
The Importance of Video for Better Engagement During Virtual Meetings
Some people shy away from video sharing during meetings for personal reasons. During times of crisis, it’s important for everyone to put vanity aside and focus on the work at hand.
A virtual meeting with the video feature is much more engaging than a teleconference. If you think about your own experiences of being able to put a name to a face, it helps you to better connect with them. Virtual eye contact is better than no eye contact. People process visual information faster and better than they process text or audio. Your brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of the information transmitted to your brain is visual.
Visual elements affect people cognitively and emotionally. Teams that need to work together on important matters who are also geographically distant from one another need to develop an emotional connection key to have deeper engagement.
As an extra tip, the board chair or meeting facilitator should be sure to allow enough time for discussion and questions before moving on to the next item on the agenda. Bear in mind that it might take a moment or two for the director to successfully unmute the audio and mic speak features.
Utilize Software Features to Encourage Engagement Before, During, and After Meetings
Virtual meeting software was designed with features to aid in engagement. Most programs allow participants to raise a virtual hand and communicate with meeting facilitators using a chatbox.
These features are only valuable if you’re using them to help increase engagement. Be sure that your meeting participants know how to use them and encourage their usage during meetings.
In addition to using virtual meeting software communication features, your board will benefit by using BoardEffect’s collaboration tools. BoardEffect provides convenient and effective ways for your board, committees, and other groups to meet and collaborate such as:
- Meeting in private workrooms
- Collaborating through group discussions
- Sharing files in group libraries
- Participating in group polls and surveys
- Facilitating group meetings
These options help to decrease the physical distance between members of the group by making it easy to get feedback, brainstorm, share files and ideas, and hold meetings.
As an additional tip, be prepared for distractions when using video software. Even when your meeting participants have a home office, there may be pets or children roaming around and other distracting noises. The best way to deal with them is to discuss them openly. It might be wise to have some sort of signal that participants can use if they need to excuse themselves from the meeting early to deal with a distraction.
Emerging Issues to Deal With that Require Board Engagement During a Crisis
There are some highly significant reasons for boards to continue meeting during a crisis. Crises create much uncertainty which greatly affects your staff on and off the job.
Be sure to include key staff members in meetings. They offer a boots-on-the-ground perspective of your operation. They will have the best perspective of what their needs are and what the needs of the organization are. Include and empower them rather than exclude or control them. By considering their input, it will somewhat ease their minds around any thoughts of insecurity. Everyone is nervous and on edge during times of crisis. Financial security is a big worry for many people, especially those that live paycheck to paycheck. Many people lack sufficient savings, so when organizations can provide financial security in the form of paid time off, paid childcare, sick days, and help with paying rent and mortgage payments, it will ease their worry. These times call for boards to meet more often to determine how to tap into emergency loans, zero-interest loans, or other means to take care of their staff. None of us have seen the impact of a crisis like COVID-19 and it’s also causing much worry about employees’ health and the health of their loved ones. This is a time for corporations and organizations to step up and be as generous as they can.
Workplace safety is another big issue on everyone’s mind. It means a lot to your employees to know that you make their health concerns a priority. Allow employees to work at home when it’s feasible. Supply facemasks, gloves, and sanitation supplies. Install glass partitions where workers come face-to-face with customers.
Little things can mean a lot during these times of crisis. Many companies are footing the cost of trauma counseling or mental health counseling for their employees or providing them with a list of resources for it. Employees appreciate a superior that checks in on them, present them with kind notes or gift certificates.
During the COVID-19 crisis, you’ll likely need to postpone events or switch to virtual events. Communication is of the utmost importance. Keep your donors, communities, staff, and other stakeholder updated on how you will be managing things safely.
Use your company website and social media outlets to create periodic briefs for updated information.
BoardEffect has the proper software solutions to help you deliver meeting materials securely, support communication efforts, and increase engagement and productivity.
Change is always difficult especially when it’s due to necessity and comes without warning. At the same, change holds the potential to create new opportunities. Board directors should look for positive changes that will also benefit the future.