Is there a such thing as a “feeling out” process for new directors? There was a time in years past where a new director wouldn’t say much during his first couple of board meetings. In fact, there was an old rule of thumb that said a new director should take about a year to get accustomed to a board, its members and how the company runs.
In today’s business world, private companies do not have the luxury of waiting that long. It is imperative that the new director be brought up to speed on all aspects of the company before the first board meeting. Three directors—Janet Morrison Clarke, Bernard H. Tenenbaum, and Ed Smith—shared their best practices for new director orientation at the Private Company Governance Summit 2015, in a discussion moderated by Ray Judge of Diligent Corporation.
These directors focused on vital issues such as addressing the role of the board chair, lead director, the CEO and key managers in onboarding the new director, what types of documents and training materials are needed and what can reasonably be expected of new directors.