Last week I had the opportunity to attend classes for my Certificate of Achievement in Public Plan Policy. I did not have any expectations going in other than I heard from co-workers the four-day event was quite grueling. My co-workers were correct, but I consider myself fortunate to have attended, as I expanded my knowledge about a variety of topics within public pensions. I surprised myself that I found the governance class most appealing. Governance? Really? Yes, really. Surprise!
What is governance? Governance is the people and processes that provide the framework for the decision making and actions toward favorable outcomes. Governance is extremely important for any board. I have attended my fair share of board meetings, and I understand the basics of how they work, who is in attendance and the purpose of the meetings. I must confess I have witnessed ineffective boards without realizing what made them ineffective. I'm pleased to say, I also know what good governance looks like and what makes a board effective. I've witnessed it without realizing WHAT I was witnessing.
Governance (noun): The people and processes that provide the framework for the decision making and actions toward favorable outcomes.
Our Board has been able to maintain a healthy balance while maintaining its effectiveness, addressing issues which may cause instability in a direct manner, using decision making skills which exemplifies good governance.
After attending this class, I'm certain I understand what good governance means. An effective board will have an established direction and policy driven decisions with defined roles and responsibilities, effective communication, identified expectations, established accountability, and improved performance. Regular review and continuous effort to improve will result in good governance.
Throughout this class, participants shared their board horror stories. These stories included an abundance of disputes over which paint color would look best in the restrooms and which plants should be put in the atrium. Too many boards wandered in the weeds, where the worker bees need to be, not the board members. Too many board members were easily swayed to maintain the status quo by not implementing anything new. They didn't do the necessary footwork to gain the knowledge and experience needed to be an effective member of the board. My heart breaks for all the boards across this country who do not understand the concept of good governance.
However, LAGERS Board of Trustees has a great balance and is able to make decisions and rely on staff to implement their vision for our organization. We are truly getting it right for you, our members, through strong board governance, and I'm proud to work for a strong governing body.