Fun and Flexibility Create a Successful Governance Retreat

healthcliniclogoI met Amanda in May 2010 at a Northwest Regional Primary Care Association Conference where she was guest speaking. In her session, she talked about board-CEO relations. I was impressed with the overall presentation and how she responded to difficult questions. It was very clear that she was speaking not from theory but from personal experience.

Some time after the conference, I decided to invite Amanda down to lead a governance retreat for my organization, LaPine Community Health Center, and was impressed for a second time. Amanda’s intentionality was spot on. She arrived the night before the retreat ready to go, and reviewed what we had planned for the day. During our conversation, I updated her on the board’s strengths and challenges, as well as my goals for the day. Amanda really listened and as we were wrapping up, she said ‘I need to make changes to our agenda.’ And she did! She incorporated the new information, revised her game plan, and crafted a session to meet what we needed in the moment — overnight. I also noticed that she kept doing it during the retreat, maintaining goals while adapting to how the energy was flowing.

Rarely in my thirty years of management have I seen a consultant mold and change to the group’s needs
so quickly.
— Charla DeHate, CEO

 

Charla’s Insights

  • Governance retreats can be fun
    and productive.
  • A skilled facilitator can respond in the moment to the needs of the group and still stay on track.
  • Board engagement is critical to a successful outcome.
  • Tending to the specific needs of a board creates meaningful engagement.

This is the first of a two-part article. Stay tuned for next month’s issue when Charla shares her team building with horses experience.

I told Amanda that my main goal for the retreat was to have the board president say that it was worth his time. With his years of service on the LaPine Community Heath Center’s board, as well as his service on many other boards, I knew it could be challenging to provide him with a board experience that felt worth his time. I believed that if Amanda could get him to see the value in the work, I could be assured that everyone else would be on a similar page. He approached me during the first break of the morning and remarked how interesting the work was!

I couldn’t believe how quickly Amanda won him over. It felt like the board realized that Amanda could relate to them, and that she wasn’t concerned with all the fluff, just what was needed. They could see that she could help.

In the afternoon I experienced more valuable moments with my board. There was an artwork activity, and everyone was laughing and having fun. It is unusual that very busy professionals are allowed to be relaxed while in a group with each other. The board members who didn’t made it to the retreat felt like they had missed out when the experiences and artwork were shared at the next meeting. It was incredibly successful, and the time Amanda took to cater to the needs of the board was a big reason for that. Rarely in my thirty years of management have I ever seen a consultant that can mold and change to the groups needs so quickly.

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