AuthorAlfred Murphy

Management Consultants Will Help Organizations Grow

Boardroom - PDM Photography

Management consultants are a tremendous asset for the development of growth, vision, strategy and personnel. Experienced consultants will help any organization.

Organizations and businesses cut jobs and downsized, creating lean management structures. Emerging from financial problems, corporations are now faced with growing business as the economy slowly returns. What is lacking is the experience and business savvy usually supplied by senior staff that are no longer with the organization.

Vision Means Growth

Shifting from a financial control model to a growth model requires vision and investment. Organizations are faced with decisions of expanding internally or engaging outside services (outsourcing) to help.

Internal Options:

Investment is financial commitment and comes in several forms. Increasing staff and bringing on new personnel to help realize sales goals. Adding support staff in order to help manage infrastructure problems created by growth. These may be in areas such as logistics, billing, procurement and human resources.

Vision requires strategy and planning. Executive management needs to shift from a cost containment mode to an expansion mode. Having a plan is an absolute must if the moves are to be successful and profitable. Waste is not an option for lean organizations.

External Options:

Management support brought in on a contract basis (management consultants) come in many forms. Their expertise comes in the form of knowledge, experience and ability to provide leadership for an organization that is engaging in growing its business.

Five Key Areas:

Strategic Planning

Most corporations have some type of strategic plan. It may be for three years or five years and account for growth, sales goals, production goals and even staff increases. It may be a great plan, realistic and rich with goals to hit. Where the plan usually fails is in the implantation. By implementation, that means who knows what is in the plan. It does not do any good if only the executive team knows what the plan is, they won’t be the ones implementing the steps needed to achieve the goals. A good consultant can help direct the development of a plan.

Process Improvement

Every corporation has flaws in the way it goes about handling internal procedures and processes. Most organizations can identify numerous processes that take too long to accomplish, slowing down how the organization conducts business. It might be a work order process, an invoicing process, a process required of sales in order to generate a purchase order. I may even be in workload distribution with one area controlling too much and subsequently being overtaxed in turn around. A good consultant can help the organization by facilitating a focused approach to change in how business is conducted. Involvement of staff is critical to any change if they are engaged things will improve, left out and not much will occur. Results oriented consulting addresses this core issue and can steer the group towards “their” improvement of the process (and bottom line).

Personnel Training

Perhaps the most neglected area of any organization, the development of its personnel. Many managers achieved their positions and then were left struggling to figure out how to manage their area. Good workers do not make good managers out of the gate. They have a lot to learn about leading versus doing. A good consultant can be of valuable assistance in this area. People will open up to a complete stranger that they do not perceive as a threat to their position since they are not connected to any hierarchy within the organization. Having a coach with experience will make the transition from employee to manager much smoother than letting the manager “figure it out” on their own. The real benefit is that results will happen faster.

Leadership Development

People become leaders; they are not gifted with some magical gene. Certain characteristics are helpful, but learning how to be a leader takes time. An experienced leadership consultant can accelerate the process and be instrumental in the growth of leadership within an organization. Drawing on their experience and past successes, a consultant will guide a new leader through the process and best practices for achieving true leadership. Again, the results are rewarding to the organization, usually in terms of employee satisfaction, improved performance results, and finally improved bottom lines.

Financial Analysis

Seasoned business consultants have as one of their “tools” financial experience at some level. It may be in the area of accounting or operational P&L management. Financial reporting is one of the most structured functions of business, usually with oversight and advice from an outside Accounting Firm skilled in the preparation of financial documents such as taxes, loan applications and such. A good financial accountant can help tie financial performance back to operations and find flaws in how business is being done that is costing money. Operational financial analysis requires knowledge of how products or services generate income.

Good Businesses Keep Looking

Any organization that seeks to grow will benefit from the services of an outside consultant that has had experience and success.

5 Essential Qualities of an Effective Board Member

5 Essential Qualities of an Effective Board Member
A solid board consists of great and qualified board members. It is the qualities of each individual board member that determines whether or not a board can operate successfully.  But what makes a person fit to sit as a member of a healthcare organization’s board of directors?

Here are the critical qualities of an effective board member:

1. Dedicated and Committed

Being a board member requires a high level of dedication and commitment to responsibilities that extends beyond attending board meetings regularly. Effective board members bring a lot to the table and maintain and unwavering interest to the achieve the goals of the organization.

2. Able to lead and influence others

An excellent member of the board has the ability to lead and influence others to pursue the goals of the organization. He or she has the spirit and drive to set direction in order to fulfill the institution’s business goals.

3. Straightforward and impartial

An effective board member brings candor to board meetings. He is able to engage other board members in discussions and debates without being arrogant or disrespectful. He is objective and impartial and has the ability to the effectively drive a point across without making things personal. A good member of the board will not hesitate to ask the hard questions for the constituents that the board servess

4. Knowledgeable and an insatiable learner

A member of the board should be knowledgeable about the organization and its culture, operations, mission, and vision, the roles and responsibilities of the board as well as the principles of good governance. Aside from that, he or she has an insatiable desire to learn and seek personal and professional development.

5. Values discretion and confidentiality

Trustworthiness is an essential trait of a board member. Board discussions and meetings are confidential and each member should be able to manifest discretion at all times. He or she should always support the decision of the board when speaking in behalf of the organization.

Principles and Best Practices for Effective Governance

  • Governance principles provide an objective basis to establish a board’s role, structure, composition and working processes.
  • Nine sample principles provide a basis for your board to customize its principles.
  • By implementing best practices associated with each principle, a board can improve its effectiveness.

The trustees of one health system were divided over how to structure the board. Some favored proportional representation from its acute care, nursing home, and elder services divisions; others wanted all at-large members with no interests to promote.

CEO leads everyone by exampleThe CEO of another health system had restructured, so facility executives were directly accountable to corporate management for finances and operations. He wanted local boards to focus on strategic direction and oversight of quality, but local boards continued monthly monitoring of finances as they’d always done. Some trustees wondered what their role was.

At a third health system, a new trustee was surprised to learn the organization had no strategic plan — at least not one that identified major initiatives and set measurable performance goals, the kind he’d developed as a successful corporate executive.

So, he interviewed the vice president for planning, drafted a strategic plan and brought it to the planning committee — to the CEO’s surprise. The CEO was upset the new trustee was meddling in management. These situations share a common cause: unclear expectations of the board’s role.

Developing Governance Principles

No team can operate at optimal effectiveness unless each member knows his or her job and all members share common expectations of how they should work together. To build shared expectations, boards can discuss and adopt a written set of governance principles that define the roles, structures, composition and processes that enable the board to add value to the organization through its work.

A governance principle is a statement of the desired governance attribute or behavior that guides board work and decisions. Governance principles can help a board resolve differences and improve performance.

Governance principles aren’t one size fits all. Individual boards will benefit from developing their principles through a participative process that is enlightening and unifying. The principles also provide a basis for a board to agree on practices that apply the principles to the board’s roles, structure, composition, and work.

Nine Sample Principles

As a starting point for discussion, here are nine governance principles that are associated with effective board performance. Each principle is followed by illustrative practices.

1. Accountability

The board understands its accountability to see that the organization acts in the best interests of the “stakeholders” who it serves such as patients and the community. Board members bring perspectives and knowledge from outside endeavors, but they don’t “represent” single constituencies. The board acts with diligence & objectivity on behalf of the stakeholders as a whole.

 

Sample Best Practices

  • Written governance principles
  • Periodic discussion of primary stakeholders and their needs

2. Responsibility

To govern (and not manage, which is the CEO’s job), the board focuses its work on six major responsibilities:

  • Define the ends, policies, and goals of the organizations, beginning with the mission, vision, values and strategic plan
  • Make and support decisions that advance the ends • Select the CEO, establish goals & expectations for the CEO and organization, evaluate his or her performance and establish appropriate compensation
  • Monitor organizational performance and exercise accountability for results, especially in the areas of mission effectiveness, financial stewardship, strategic direction, quality of care and customer service
  • Use influence with key internal and external constituencies to advance the mission and vision
  • Take responsibility for the board’s effectiveness.

 

Sample Best Practices

  • Written position descriptions for trustees, board chairperson and committee chairpersons
  • Explicit process for CEO goal-setting, evaluation and compensation review

 

3. Exemplary Conduct

Directors exhibit trust and respect toward colleagues and management, honor the confidentiality of sensitive information and scrupulously observe the conflict of interest policy.

 

Sample Best Practices

  • Periodic board education and discussion of conflict of interest
  • Confidentiality policy
  • Code of conduct

 

4. Mission- and Vision-Driven

Board composition, structure, and work are designed to enhance the mission, vision, values and strategic direction of the organization.

 

Sample Best Practices

  • Board and committee meeting agendas that focus on major initiatives in the strategic plan
  • Measurable goals to track strategic plan implementation and organizational effectiveness
  • Performance reports presented in a dashboard format
  • Meeting evaluation form to assess incorporation of mission and values

 

5. Streamlined

The board’s size and committee structure are as lean as possible to facilitate communication, participative discussion, and efficient decision-making.

Sample Best Practices

  • Straight-forward structure
  • Optimal size (11-17) to balance the diversity of competencies with the need for timely decision making
  • Sunset provision for committees
  • Committee charters, annual goals, and work plans
  • Task forces for short-term needs

 

6. Competency-Based Composition

Board members are chosen to bring specific competencies and personal characteristics that will enhance the mission, vision, and work of the board. Competencies are developed further through orientation and ongoing education.

 

Sample Best Practices

  • Written board competencies
  • All trustees participate in the recruitment of prospective members
  • Term limits promote connectedness with stakeholders, fresh thinking and objectivity
  • Rotation of members on committees
  • Members are evaluated and reelected based on satisfactory performance
  • Succession planning for board leaders

 

7. Education and Development

Competencies are enhanced through education and ongoing board development.

 

Sample Best Practices

  • New trustee orientation and mentoring
  • Board manual, including written board policies
  • Education at all meetings
  • Participation in outside seminars
  • Annual board retreat
  • Board education budget

 

8. Value-Added Work

The board focuses on meetings and all work on activities that add value to the organization, with an emphasis on high level, strategic matters and critical issues affecting the future of the organization.

 

Sample Best Practices

  • Annual board goals and work plan
  • Formal and open agenda planning process
  • Consent agendas

 

9. Continuous Self-Renewal

The board regularly evaluates its performance and uses the results to improve. The board also evaluates the performance of the board as a whole as well as the performance of the chairperson and individual trustees.

 

Sample Best Practices

  • Regular self-evaluation
  • Evaluations of chairperson and individual trustees
  • Governance Committee

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