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Non-executive director or non-effective dinosaur?

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How to recruit a non-executive director. Strangely, it may be easier to say “what not to do” in the first instance.

1. Don’t choose someone from the auditors

  • They will be boring
  • They will be super cautious
  • They will be too financially orientated

2. Don’t choose someone just because they have the right name

  • They will probably guess this is partly why you choose them and may therefore be arrogant about it
  • If they are a “big name” you are almost certainly going to be a minnow in their world

3. Don’t choose someone just because you respect them

  • This will soon wear thin. Trust is much more important (and don’t forget you should actually like these people)

4. Don’t choose someone just because they have your industry experience

  • A good non-executive director is often better because they ask the “stupid question” that someone with industry experience considered irrelevant

5. Don’t choose someone who is doing it only for the money

  • Decisions need to be challenged, hard and scary policies introduced. A non-executive director who is solely concerned with his or her fees will not contribute in the correct manner

6. Don’t choose an ex executive director or employee

  • Independence is important. These people will carry too much baggage and emotion to do the job justice

7. Don’t assume non-executive directors don’t need objectives or feedback

  • They do and both parties will feel more positive as a result of implementing such basic management principles

8. Don’t let your non-executive directors go native 

  • They must be able to see way beyond the wood
  • If they become operational, they may loose this vital ingredient

9. Don’t agree with your non-executive director just because you think you should

  • Equally, if they become in any way submissive, it’s time to move on

10. Don’t assume you don’t need a formal appointment

  • You must put in place a contract for services
  • Templates are on the web but it’s best to get a lawyer to check it over

And finally, don’t be afraid to trial run a few non-executive directors. This is an important relationship so try courting before the marriage.

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