To help new volunteer leaders get over the learning curve, pair them up with seasoned board members who can show them the ropes and break the ice with colleagues.
What’s the great idea? Board Buddy Program
Who’s doing it? American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants
What’s involved? Joining an association board of directors is like making the team in an unfamiliar sport. Not only are you unaccustomed to the rules of play, but you’re also teaming up with people you may be unacquainted with.
At the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC), “people felt there was a long learning curve when new board members were coming on,” says Executive Director Kristin Tamkus. “I heard from a lot of them that their first year they felt really disorganized and were trying to play catch-up on what was going on.”
By year two or three, most board members felt they had hit their stride, Tamkus says, but there was too much lag in the meantime. To speed up the onboarding process, AALNC initiated a board buddy program. The board president pairs a new board member with a current one, who is charged with establishing a relationship with the new member and explaining what to expect while serving on the board.
The seasoned board member is the newbie’s go-to person for fielding questions or providing the backstory on board agenda items—questions that new board members might not be comfortable asking in front of the whole group.
What are people saying? The buddy program has been a great addition to AALNC’s formal board orientation. “It really helps speed up the learning process,” Tamkus says. New board members “know that they have this one go-to person, where they can ask those quote-unquote silly questions or just create a relationship with that one person.”
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Buddy Up."]