Young people on our board... why would we?
5 reasons you might consider a young person on your board
1. Perspective and Energy
Young people can bring a new injection of energy or views to a meeting. They often ask questions that can invigorate a debate and stimulate discussion. They bring a new perspective, and may raise suggestions not considered by other members of the board.
2. Future Leadership
Young people are the future custodians of the community and participation on a your board will help them with the skills for this role. Experience with complex decision-making. as well as the confidence to contribute, means they can take their place as community leaders sooner.
3. Teach Them Skills
Young people can gain many skills from being involved with decision-making and governance. Exposing young people to this process will provide them with a sense of ownership, responsibility, and commitment to their decisions.
4. Teach You Skills
Don't underestimate young people's skills. Working life is very different, and many have started non-profits and fundraising, worked in start-ups, or otherwise been exposed to skills a non-profit director needs, at a much younger age than in past generations.
5. Keep up-to-date
Having young people on board means that your governance processes will have to undertake a revision, which is great news for stagnant boards. For example, if you're still communicating by conference calls and paper documents, you need a tech upgrade with video conferencing, SMS and emails. Plus, they'll want a good pace of meeting, and discuss strategy, not correspondence.
5 things you need to do to get ready for young people
1. Remove the blinkers
Embrace the diversity of young people. Having a blinkered approach to the ‘type’ of young person you wish to engage will limit your board's ability to connect with the broader youth community about the issues important to them. Your new member could potentially represent people from different cultural or socio-economic backgrounds or may come with green hair, facial piercings, or tattoos.
2. Expand traditional board meeting times
If you’re looking to recruit younger members it’s important to consider the possibility their time commitments are different than the average, older board member. For example, if you are looking to recruit younger members, you must keep in mind that they may have young families and jobs with demanding time frames.
If your board meeting has always been the first Wednesday of the month at 5 PM, you might need to consider changing that to a different day or time in order to accommodate the lifestyle needs of your younger board members.
3. Bring young people on in pairs
If your board doesn't have any young people now, and especially if your average director is aged 50 or above, have more than one young person on your board at once. They'll feel more comfortable, and you'll get a better sense of the range of skills young people can offer.
Like you, they want to be on your board to serve, not fill a quota. Like recruiting any director, you need to ask yourself what skills your youthful candidates are bringing to your board and which of will serve you best.
4. Update the agenda and board room operations
Young people will have a keen sense of 'best practice' and standards. If they don't know, they'll look it up. I can help your board prepare for that.
5. Learn how to listen and talk with young people
I get that young people may seem strange, but so do you to them. They truly are the most educated and connected generations who are living through a technological revolution, not the industrial revolution. However, you have stories and insights to share as well.
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Shayne Leslie | firstname.lastname@example.org | 0412 241 773