by Craig Sims, SVP, Southwest Hospital Operations, CHC
Community-based hospitals put the “care” in healthcare, and
meaningful hospital-Board partnerships based on trust and mutual goals drive this mission. Board members make important decisions to serve the community , and help develop strategies to ensure the hospital’s long-term sustainability.
Here are some best practice tips for positive, productive Board-CEO relationships.
- Develop a Trustee recruitment and retention process. Recruiting and retaining Trustees is too important to be left up to chance. In fact, “retention” begins in the recruitment phase and never ends. Initial orientation for new Board members should include one-on-one time with the hospital CEO and CFO, as well as the Board Chair and Finance Committee Chair. After six months, ask Trustees about their orientation and education experience. Seek ways to improve.
- Foster open communication. Communicate with candor. Facilitate two-way dialogue and encourage open communication. Create an environment of trust to help everyone tackle tough decisions. Even if there are dissenting opinions, a collegial atmosphere allows Board members to say to one another, “I value your input — tell me more.”
- Communicate frequently with Board members. Share timely information on hospital and community events, along with local, regional and state issues impacting health care. Provide educational articles and links, send out Board packets in a timely fashion prior to Board meetings, and utilize current technology to facilitate communication (electronic Board packets and Board portals, for example).
- Make meetings meaningful. Start with the “why” instead of the “what.” Begin Board meetings by reading the mission, vision and values of the organization instead of jumping into reports. Productive meetings require engagement; move informational items off the agenda for Trustees to read on their own. Focus on three to five issues that require voting. In closing the meeting, the Board chair should ask the group:
- Did we focus on the right issues?
- Did we participate in an active way?
- Understand the difference between governance and management. The role of the Board is governance. The Board governs and sets policy; hospital administration manages and implements policy. Hospital Boards should focus on strategy, not operations.
- Facilitate continuous learning. Effective boards are well-educated. Budget for Board education, including learning opportunities such as:
- Comprehensive Board orientation
- Annual Board self-assessment
- Planned continuing education
- Board retreats
CHC offers a variety of advisory services depending on client needs — including board education — to help enhance hospital CEO-board relationships. Learn more about CHC Hospital Board Advisory Services.