Sep 272017
 

The effective Non-Executive Director course helps you to be an effective non-executive director. It instils a real sense of what is expected of NEDs, and how you can meet the challenge.

The effective Non-Executive Director

This one-day interactive course is aimed at newly appointed or serving NEDs and covers essential knowledge about roles, responsibilities, strategy and corporate governance that are key foundations for a Non-Executive board role. It also considers up to date thinking on corporate governance and the responsibilities of owners, the board and employees.

This course identifies the various ways and circumstances in which non-executive directors can make an effective contribution to a board’s work.

Who should attend?

Individuals who are newly appointed or serving non-executive directors.

What to expect?

  • Clarifies how and why non-executive directors can strengthen a board
  • Provides practical guidance on how to be effective as a non-executive director

Course objectives
Participation on this course will provide you with the knowledge to:

  • Clarify the board’s role, purpose and key tasks
  • Appreciate the contributions that non-executive directors can make to the board in different types of company and situations
  • Recognise the qualities and experience needed to fulfil a non-executive director appointment

Course Leader: David Doughty CDir FIoD

David Doughty - Chartered DirectorThe course is delivered by David Doughty, a Chartered Director and highly experienced Non-Executive, Chief Executive, Chair, Entrepreneur and Business Mentor. David has extensive executive and non-executive experience in small and medium enterprises in private and public sectors. He is also a board level consultant to multi-national organisations and a Chartered Director Ambassador for the Institute of Directors. See his LinkedIn profile here: 

Key Details
Duration: 1 day
Location:
Institute of Directors
116 Pall Mall
London SW1Y 5EDPrice
£330.00 (ex VAT)
Payment with Booking Price
£300.00 (ex VAT)
Partner Discount Price
£280.00 (ex VAT)*
Book Now
To see course dates and to book your place now follow this link:
Course Registration
The fee includes lunch, refreshments and a copy of the course handbook

Courses can be delivered ‘in-house’ to a group of Non-Executive Directors – to find out more contact courses@excellencia.co.uk or call 01173 827 820

*Discounts on Excellencia course fees are available for:

Jun 262017
 

Find out how you can obtain a Non-Executive Director position by booking a place on this interactive 1-day course.

“I thought the course was enlightening and very rich in content. I particularly liked the balance of case study analysis with emphasis on a NED’s key responsibility. It was well structured and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all those who were present, when I say that the course offers a great deal of value to any aspiring or even existing NED who wants to make a success of their role”

Poku Osei Programme Director at Babbasa

The How to become a Non-Executive Director course helps you to plan and prepare for your first NED position. It instils a real sense of what is expected of NEDs, and how you can meet the challenge.

This one-day interactive course is aimed at aspiring NEDs and covers essential knowledge about roles, responsibilities, strategy and corporate governance that are key foundations for a Non-Executive board role. It also considers up to date thinking on corporate governance and the responsibilities of owners, the board and employees.

This is followed by practical sessions on identifying NED opportunities, the process of obtaining a first appointment and performing due diligence before any position is accepted. There is emphasis on the importance of presenting your experiences with clarity and relevance.

This course identifies the various ways and circumstances in which non-executive directors can make an effective contribution to a board’s work. It also examines methods for their selection and reviews their motivation, induction and reward.

Who should attend?
Individuals who are currently a non-executive director; those seeking appointment as a non-executive director and those looking to appoint a non-executive director.

What to expect?

  • Clarifies how and why non-executive directors can strengthen a board
  • Provides practical guidance on how best to secure an appointment as a non-executive director

Course objectives
Participation on this course will provide you with the knowledge to:

  • Clarify the board’s role, purpose and key tasks
  • Appreciate the contributions that non-executive directors can make to the board in different types of company and situations
  • Recognise the qualities and experience needed to fulfil a non-executive director appointment
  • Appreciate appropriate methods for finding, selecting, appointing and rewarding non-executive directors
  • Understand the preparation required to interview for or be interviewed for the post of non-executive director

Course Leader: David Doughty CDir FIoD

David Doughty - Chartered DirectorThe course is delivered by David Doughty, a Chartered Director and highly experienced Non-Executive, Chief Executive, Chair, Entrepreneur and Business Mentor. David has extensive executive and non-executive experience in small and medium enterprises in private and public sectors. He is also a board level consultant to multi-national organisations and a Chartered Director Ambassador for the Institute of Directors. See his LinkedIn profile here: (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/daviddoughty)

Key Details
Duration: 1 day
Location:

Scotland Study Centre
29 Nicholson Square
Edinburgh
EH8 9BX

Price
£330.00 (ex VAT)

Payment with Booking Price

£300.00 (ex VAT)

Partner Discount Price*
£280.00 (ex VAT)

Book Now
To see course dates and to book your place now follow this link:

Course Registration
The fee includes lunch, refreshments and a copy of the course handbook

Attendance counts as 6 CPD hours of structured learning

*Discounts on Excellencia course fees are available for:

Aug 222016
 

As a director how comfortable are you with company finance?

financial-documents1000

Are you confident in your ability to understand the three core elements of Management Accounts:

  • Cash Flow?
  • Profit and Loss (or Income and Expenditure)?
  • Balance Sheet?

Do you understand Forecast/Budget, Actuals and Variance reports?

Do you know how to use Key Ratios to evaluate your company’s performance?

Do you know if you are trading whilst insolvent?

This half-day course will provide the essential knowledge of those key financial issues and concepts that are needed by successful Executive and Non-Executive Directors in order to discharge their duties and responsibilities as a company director. The completion of this course will provide a good grasp of the key elements of Management Accounts and Statutory Financial Accounts. It will also provide a sound theoretical financial knowledge base upon which to build and acquire new and more advanced financial skills.

Who should attend?

Executive and Non-Executive Directors, senior executives or aspiring directors looking to understand more about company finance.

Course Content

  • The Three Key Financial Statements
    • Cash Flow Statements: Importance of cash flow and Impact of credit and credit control, Problems affecting cash flow, Dealing with Debtors and Creditors
    • Profit & Loss Account, Types of profit, and Layout & use of the profit & loss account
    • Balance Sheets: Assets; Liabilities; Net current assets, capital employed and how to interpret the information;
  • Revenue and Capital Expenditure
    • What are Capital and Revenue Expenditure
    • Phasing of capital spend and its Implications for budget holders
  • Depreciation; Assets and liabilities
    • What is Depreciation?
    • The Different types and uses
  • Forecasts and Budgets
    • The purpose of forecasts for the business
    • Budget objectives
    • Budgetary Control as a management tool
    • Variance analysis
  • Using Ratios to Support Investment Decisions
    • Return on Capital Employed (ROCE); Payback; Internal Rate of Return (IRR); Net Present Value of assets (NPV)
    • Investment decisions and Return on Investment (ROI); Cost of capital
    • Gearing, is the level of borrowing too risky?
    • Liquidity, could the company hit cash flow problems?
    • Profitability, how well is the company doing?

Learning Objectives

This half-day course enables participants to understand better, the key attributes and approaches that underpin a strategic and tactical financial approach to management and help to develop the key skills and styles that will allow participants to be more effective when adopting and applying a decision making approach to management.

By the end of this training course participants will be better able to:

  • Read, analyse and interpret any set of Financial Statements, including the Balance Sheet, the Profit & Loss Account and the Cash Flow statements
  • Understand and quantify the impact of the fundamental accounting concepts and the chosen policies upon any set of accounts
  • Recognise and understand the underlying impact of the generally accepted accounting principles and policies on any Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Account
  • Understand the key differences between statutory published accounts and the internal monthly management accounts
  • Identify and discuss the key financial issues facing an organisation
  • Understand the wider commercial impact of any business decision and its interaction with non-financial aspects of the organisation, enabling you to make a better contribution to key discussions and decision making amongst managers and within the organisation
  • Understand the basics of budgets and the implementation of budgeting processes
  • Value any business using commonly used and widely accepted valuation techniques such as Net Asset Value, Enterprise Value and EBITDA
  • Communicate more effectively and easily with Finance Directors, and other Finance professionals; through an in depth understanding of financial terminology, management and evaluation techniques.

Course Leader:
David Doughty CDir FIoD

David Doughty - Chartered DirectorThe course is delivered by David Doughty, a Chartered Director and highly experienced Non-Executive, Chief Executive, Chair, Entrepreneur and Business Mentor. David has extensive executive and non-executive experience in small and medium enterprises in private and public sectors. He is also a board level consultant to multi-national organisations and a Chartered Director Ambassador for the Institute of Directors. See his LinkedIn profile here:

Key Details

Duration: 1/2 day
13:00 – 16:30
Location:
Orchard Street Business Centre
14 Orchard Street
Bristol BS1 5EH

Price
£170.00 (ex VAT)
Payment with Booking Price £160.00 (ex
VAT)
Partner Discount Price £150.00 (ex VAT)*

Book Now

To see course dates and to book your place now follow this link:
Course Registration

The fee includes refreshments and a copy of the course handbook

Attendance counts as 3 verifiable CPD hours of structured learning which count towards the requirements of most business focussed institutes, including the Institute of Directors, the Institute of Consulting, the Chartered Management Institute, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and many others.  After successful completion of the course, you will receive an electronic Certificate confirming that you have successfully completed the course, detailing the outcomes and results.

*Discounts on Excellencia course fees are available for:

Director Essentials

Aug 032016
 

Time is our most valuable commodity. Meetings are often the thing that take up most of our time. What if your meetings could be more secure and more efficient? What if board members could enjoy a streamlined process of information gathering and sharing, no matter where they were on the planet?

Gemma Walford, head of Sales and Account Management  for the EU region of Convene

Strategic away day

Though many businesses focus generally on how to improve the experience of meetings, this sometimes doesn’t extend to the factors that really matter, and that will make a difference to the organization as a whole. Improving workflow practices and ensuring there’s a well-planned agenda would be two potential areas that businesses might want to look at and improve.

Making More of Board Packs

Let us take your board packs as one example.

Board packs:

  • Are substantial documents, and in some cases can run into hundreds of pages
  • Take time, and often lots of collaboration, to be put together
  • Will often be edited until the last possible moment
  • Need to be distributed securely to board members in time for them to review prior to the next board meeting

Only four bullet points, but an awful lot of work involved here. The truth is that it is also awfully inefficient, whether you look at the use of resources to print and deliver board packs, the storage of hard copies of board packs, or the need for board members to carry these from A to B when heading to their meeting.

By moving to a digital board portal all of these concerns will disappear. Your meetings become more productive, and administrative staff who spend hours on your board pack creation will usually find they have significant time to focus on other tasks.

Using board portal software means you can create, edit, annotate, distribute, and discuss information securely, remotely, and efficiently. You also get the benefit of being able to ensure specific team members only see the information that is relevant to them. Does your Training and Development Director really need to receive a 250-page board pack when there are three pages in the whole document that matter to them?

How Much Time Can Be Saved?

While it naturally changes between businesses, it is not unheard of for the time taken to collate and distribute board packs to be cut in half by going digital.

Do the quick calculation now and think about the impact this could have on your business:

  • How many people are involved in creating your board packs?
  • How many hours do they spend?
  • Cut this in half
  • What could they achieve given this time back?

In some respects this is quite frightening; depending on your current process you could easily earn the equivalent of a new employee given the time saved!

You’ve also eliminated the worry about board packs getting to their intended destination on-time and securely. Just publish the board pack online, and your board members can access right away.

The Beauty of Digital in Making You More Efficient

If your board packs are digital, and you have a digital space for your board members to work, some issues can easily be discussed prior to the meeting taking place. This means that if board member A doesn’t have a detailed understanding of a particular issue, they can discuss with board member B beforehand, and therefore save everyone else time in the meeting itself, while also ensuring they can create their own opinions and ideas in order to contribute.

This can be particularly powerful if you use a digital board space but still host meetings with everyone physically in attendance.

Board portals also mean you can share notes and annotate documents beforehand, and can easily take hours off the length of meetings. Let’s envisage you have eight board members and your meetings are two hours shorter – that’s two working days of director-level hours going back into your business.

Board Portals and Your Fresh Approach

Your aim for board meetings should be to empower your board members so that they arrive at every meeting, whether it is held in the cloud or people attend in person, having been able to assess their board packs and discuss anything that may be unclear. By far the easiest way to do this to use a digital board portal.

Use board portals and make your meetings better organized, your board members more efficient, and gain back hours of time for your team members tasked with putting your board packs together.

Gemma Walford is head of Sales and Account Management for Convene for the EU region. She has extensive experience of the Public sector and is interested in improving productivity and business change.

Azeus Convene was developed to serve the needs of boards and management teams around the world. Our focus on user experience, combined with our technology expertise, has allowed Convene to become the preferred meeting software for FTSE 100, Fortune 500, governments and organizations in over 20 countries across the globe. As a publicly traded company with over 300 employees and a strong balance sheet, we are confident of our ability to continuously improve our solutions and support our clients.

Our company has been appraised at the highest level (Level 5) of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) since 2003. As the de facto standard for assessing and improving software processes, CMMI accreditation at this level signifies high quality of products and services as well as successful delivery of our solutions in a methodical manner.

 

Jul 052016
 

Are you thinking of becoming a Non-Executive Director as part of a Portfolio Career or to develop your boardroom skills prior to taking up an executive director role?

How to become a Non-Executive Director

Join us on Tuesday, July 19 2016 to find out how you can become a Non-Executive Director

“Unlike many courses I have attended in the past, How to become a Non-Executive Director went beyond just the technical aspects of being a ‘Non-Exec’, and reflected on the differences in the approach required compared to being an Exec Director.
It allows you to make a fully informed decision on whether a Non Exec role is right for you, and if it is, how to go about finding opportunities.
An invaluable day of learning!”

Alastair Lewis Director at Smaointe Ltd

The How to become a Non-Executive Director course helps you to plan and prepare for your first NED position. It instils a real sense of what is expected of NEDs, and how you can meet the challenge.

This one-day interactive course is aimed at aspiring NEDs and covers essential knowledge about roles, responsibilities, strategy and corporate governance that are key foundations for a Non-Executive board role. It also considers up to date thinking on corporate governance and the responsibilities of owners, the board and employees.

This is followed by practical sessions on identifying NED opportunities, the process of obtaining a first appointment and performing due diligence before any position is accepted. There is emphasis on the importance of presenting your experiences with clarity and relevance.

This course identifies the various ways and circumstances in which non-executive directors can make an effective contribution to a board’s work. It also examines methods for their selection and reviews their motivation, induction and reward.

Who should attend?
Individuals who are currently a non-executive director; those seeking appointment as a non-executive director and those looking to appoint a non-executive director.

What to expect?

  • Clarifies how and why non-executive directors can strengthen a board
  • Provides practical guidance on how best to secure an appointment as a non-executive director

Course objectives
Participation on this course will provide you with the knowledge to:

  • Clarify the board’s role, purpose and key tasks
  • Appreciate the contributions that non-executive directors can make to the board in different types of company and situations
  • Recognise the qualities and experience needed to fulfil a non-executive director appointment
  • Appreciate appropriate methods for finding, selecting, appointing and rewarding non-executive directors
  • Understand the preparation required to interview for or be interviewed for the post of non-executive director

Course Leader: David Doughty CDir FIoD

David Doughty - Chartered DirectorThe course is delivered by David Doughty, a Chartered Director and highly experienced Non-Executive, Chief Executive, Chair, Entrepreneur and Business Mentor. David has extensive executive and non-executive experience in small and medium enterprises in private and public sectors. He is also a board level consultant to multi-national organisations and a Chartered Director Ambassador for the Institute of Directors. See his LinkedIn profile here: (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/daviddoughty)

Key Details
Duration: 1 day
Location:

Orchard Street Business Centre
14 Orchard Street
Bristol BS1 5EH

Price:

£330.00 (ex VAT)

Payment with Booking Price
£300.00 (ex VAT)

Partner Discount Price*
£280.00 (ex VAT)

Book Now

To see course dates and to book your place now follow this link:
Course Registration
The fee includes lunch, refreshments and a copy of the course handbook

Attendance counts as 6 CPD hours of structured learning


 

*Discounts on Excellencia course fees are available for:

Jan 282016
 

health & safetyFor many years it’s been almost a tradition for companies to treat the subject of health & safety management as something of a joke; as the poor relation in the management world; as something of an afterthought or optional extra.

Well, in the UK things are about to change (and change radically) with the introduction of the new Sentencing Guidelines for health & safety offences which come into effect on 1st February 2016.

Make no mistake: these are not just technical changes as to how offenders will be punished but are instead a fundamental overhaul of current sentencing policy. Of course, health & safety law has always had teeth – but now these teeth have been dramatically sharpened!

Let’s look at some of these changes in a little more detail, and those of you who wish to consider the guidelines in their entirety can download a copy from the Sentencing Council using the link:

https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/HS-offences-definitive-guideline-FINAL-web.pdf

The first, and most obvious, change is that the range of financial penalties available to the courts has been increased, and this is especially true in the case of magistrates’ courts. Up to 1st February 2016 the maximum fine available to the Bench will remain at £20,000 per offence, but from 1st February this will increase to “unlimited”, which means that magistrates will be authorised to levy the same magnitude of fine as the Crown Court.

In order to ensure as much uniformity in sentencing as possible the Guidelines also suggest ranges of fines applicable dependent upon the seriousness of the offence and the turnover of the company. (And note that the criterion being used is “turnover” and not “profit” – a significant detail).

For a “micro” company (i.e. defined as one with a turnover less than £2 million) the range for the most serious breach is £150,000 – £450,000, but for a “large” company (turnover of £50 million or more) the range for the most serious breach is £2.6M – £10M.

However, note that this upper figure of £10M is not the maximum fine which a court has the power to impose. The figures quoted in the Guidelines are only asuggested range, and courts can use their discretion to increase fines should they feel the increase to be appropriate in the interests of justice.

This approach is supported by the Guidelines which state clearly that:

“Where an offending organisation’s turnover or equivalent very greatly exceeds the threshold for large organisations, it may be necessary to move outside the suggested range to achieve a proportionate sentence”

The overarching principle behind the levy of fines is also clarified in the Guidelines as follows:

“The fine must be sufficiently substantial to have a real economic impact which will bring home to both management and shareholders the need to comply with health & safety legislation”

Well, offenders can’t say they weren’t warned!

In addition to substantially increasing the magnitude of available fines the Guidelines also include an important change in how the seriousness of offences should be assessed by the court. Currently the seriousness is based on how much harm was actually caused, but from February the courts will look instead at therisks involved in the breach – i.e. they will look at what could have happened rather than what actually happened. To quote the Guidelines:

“Health & safety offences are concerned with failures to manage risks to health & safety and do not require proof that the offence caused any actual harm. The offence is creating a risk of harm

To put this new approach into context, consider the case of a company which has allowed the use of machinery on which the protective guards have been disabled (and, unfortunately, such management stupidity is not an uncommon occurrence!)

From February it will be irrelevant whether somebody was actually injured by this practice. The fine will be based upon the risk involved, upon the possibility that somebody could have received a life-changing (crippling) injury, and this consideration of foreseeable risk pushes the offence towards the higher end of the sentencing spectrum.

So far we’ve only looked at the potential effects of the Guidelines on organisations, but what about people? The maximum prison terms that can be imposed remain unchanged at 6 months for offenders sentenced in the magistrates’’ court and two years for persons sentenced in the Crown Court, but the change in philosophy regarding the potential harm which could have been caused by the offence will affect the likelihood of a custodial sentence being imposed.

In the example given above, that of a company failing to guard machinery effectively, it is quite probable that the senior manager/ director responsible for company operations will face an individual charge under s37 Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 for allowing the organisation to breach health & safety legislation.

Basing his sentence on the risk of serious (i.e. life changing) harm being caused by his failure will mean that he is in peril of receiving an immediate custodial sentence of between 6 and 18 months. He may not be sent down, of course, but unless there are suitable mitigating factors the Judge would certainly be acting within the Guidelines by imposing such a penalty.

Space is limited, and so I have been unable to do more than look at just a few highlights contained within the Guidelines. Nevertheless, even this quick overview should have made abundantly clear to senior managers and directors the need to take their health & safety management duties very seriously from now on.

Remember that unambiguous statement contained within the Guidelines:“Health & safety offences are concerned with failures to manage risks to health & safety”. Could they have made their warning any clearer?

Jan 282016
 

Does your board have directors who trust each other, are committed, are comfortable with conflict, hold each other to account and are focused on results?

DD_TwitterIf not, your board is likely to have some degree of dysfunctionality and is possibly in need of an intervention.

I have been working with boards of organisations of all sizes in all sectors for a number of years and most of them exhibit some degree of dysfunctionality,

I use a board evaluation and diagnostic tool based on the book by Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, to discover the level of dysfunctionality within a board.

The foremost dysfunctionality is; Lack of Trust – if there is no trust on the board, directors will:

  • Conceal their weaknesses and mistakes from one another.
  • Hesitate to ask for help or provide constructive feedback.
  • Hesitate to offer help outside their own areas of responsibilities.
  • Jump to conclusions about the intentions and aptitudes of others without attempting to clarify them.
  • Fail to recognise and tap into one another’s skills and experiences.
  • Waste time and energy managing their behaviours for effect.
  • Hold grudges.
  • Focus time and energy on politics, not important issues.
  • Dread meetings and find reasons to avoid spending time together.

The next dysfunctionality is; Fear of Conflict, The symptoms of this dysfunctionality in boards is that they will have boring meetings, create environments where back-channel politics and personal attacks thrive and ignore controversial topics that are critical to board success. They will also fail to tap into all the opinions and perspectives of board members and waste time and energy on posturing and interpersonal risk management.

The third dysfunctionality is where a board Fails to Commit to being a Team – this results in:

  • Ambiguity among the board about direction and priorities.
  • Missed opportunities due to excessive analysis and unnecessary delay.
  • A lack of confidence and fear of failure.
  • Revisiting discussions and decisions again and again.
  • Second-guessing among directors.

Dysfunctional boards are unable to create clarity around their direction and priorities and cannot align directors around common objectives. They move forward with hesitation and are unable to learn from mistakes.

Fourth, a board that Avoids Accountability:

  • Creates resentment among directors who have different standards of performance.
  • Encourages mediocrity.
  • Misses deadlines and key deliverables.
  • Places an undue burden on the Chair as the sole source of discipline.
  • Does not ensure poor performers feel the pressure to improve.
  • Does not identify potential problems quickly by questioning each other’s approaches without hesitation.

Finally, if a board is not Focused on Results, the organisation will stagnate or fail to grow, rarely defeat competitors, lose achievement-oriented employees, be easily distracted and encourage individualistic behaviour where board members focus on their own careers and individual goals.

So what should boards be doing?

Directors who can agree with most of the following are likely to be sitting on more effective boards:

  • Board members are clear on what is expected of them.
  • Board meeting agendas are well planned so that the board is able to get through all necessary board business.
  • Most board members come to meetings prepared.
  • Written reports to the board are received well in advance of meetings.
  • All directors participate in important board discussions.
  • Different points of view are encouraged and discussed.
  • All directors support the decisions reached.
  • The board has a plan for the further development of directors.
  • Board meetings are always interesting and frequently fun.

How many of the above statements are you able to agree with?

If you disagree with a number of them, the likelihood is that you are a member of a dysfunctional board … and If your business has a dysfunctional board, it is also likely to be a dysfunctional business.

Jan 082016
 

Minutepad1

Mark Ashcroft had just parked his car and was waiting for the airport shuttle bus when his mobile phone rang. Normally he would let it go to voicemail but when he saw that it was from the new Chairman, Janice Young, he decided that he’d better take it.
“Janice. What’s up?” he asked.
“Mark, I know you are in transit, but I just wondered if you had seen the latest figures?” Janice said, getting straight to the point as usual.
“It’s a bit early for the board pack to be out, isn’t it?” Mark replied, worried that he might have missed something.
“Oh, don’t worry Mark, there’s plenty of time before the next Board meeting. No, this is just Mary being her usual efficient self and getting her finance report out nice and early.” Janice reassured him.
Mary Cartwright was the Finance Director and had been in post before Mark joined the Board as a Non-Executive Director (NED) nearly three years ago. Her finance paper was usually the first document to go into the board pack and as such was always a useful indication that the next board meeting was fast approaching.
“There are a couple of things I wanted you to have a look at in Mary’s report, I’ve highlighted them for you” Janice continued.
“Let me guess. It wouldn’t be anything to do with the cost saving targets would it?” asked Mark.
“Yes, it’s hard to tell at this stage but I think we might be going off track” said Janice.
“That’s exactly why I wasn’t keen on the cost reduction program being so back-loaded,” replied Mark. “It makes it so difficult for us NEDs to see if things are going wrong, and by the time we do there’s no time to do anything about it” he continued.
“My bus has just arrived, let me have a look at the figures when I get to the terminal and I’ll call you back” Mark said as he got onto the shuttle bus.
As soon as he got into the terminal, Mark connected to the secure Board portal on his tablet, found Mary’s finance report and started to read. He soon spotted where Janice had highlighted the areas she was concerned about and where she had made some notes.
“Hi, Janice. Mark here. I’ve got the report up on the screen and have read your notes” he said when he called Janice back. “I see what you mean” he continued.
“Yes, I think we should arrange a conference call with the other NEDs. When does your plane get in? Janice asked.
“I should be back on terra firma in about 3 hours” said Mark “It might be a good idea to ask Ken to do some graphs using these figures and from the previous reports so we can get some trend info. Can you get him to upload them into the portal so we can look at the data and make our notes against it, prior to the conference call?” he continued.
“Good idea” said Janice “In the meantime, I’ll have a word with Mary and see if I can get some more background, Have a safe flight!”.

This conversation is typical of the sort of pre-board meeting discussions that take place between non-executive directors, usually triggered by the arrival of the board pack.
Traditionally, the arrival of this set of paper board documents is heralded by the gentle thud on the doormat as the often weighty package falls to the ground from the letter box just a few days before the next board meeting.
This is followed by a frantic period of a few hours, which the non-executive director spends reading through the tome and making rushed notes in the margins as they progress. Any background research to corroborate greater understanding is often restricted to locally stored, confidential papers that the NED happens to have in their possession. Such limited access to historical information obviously limits preparation for the NED and weakens their effectiveness.
Additionally, the late arrival of the paper based board pack sometimes necessitates that this vital review is carried out during the journey to the board meeting, meaning that confidential papers and previously made notes, may run the risk of being lost or misplaced during transit.
When finally immersed in the depth of the meeting, the NED has to access those scribbled, handwritten notes, decipher and interpret them, often in the midst of sometimes-heated discussions, it is not surprising that this is not the best process for a successful, considered discussion.
These days, given the technology that is widely available to even the longest serving NED, it is no longer necessary for directors to wait until the complete board pack is assembled and posted out to them. They can read and discuss each paper as soon as it is published on a secure Board portal application; either on their desktops, laptops, tablets or smart phones.
This gives NEDs particularly, more time to discuss the content with their fellow directors, to ask for further information and to improve their understanding of the issues at hand so that their contributions at the boardroom table are well-informed, thorough and complete.

Nov 102015
 

“Reasons why I don’t …”

by Andy Farrall

Andy Farrall Health and SafetyHealth & Safety specialists never cease to be amazed by the “reasons” given by senior managers as to why they don’t see the need for effective Health & Safety management systems, and some of these “reasons” are analysed below.

What is rather worrying, is that the people advocating these “reasons” are otherwise astute business people who presumably understand the ways of the world!

  1. We don’t need a system – it’s only common sense:

Ah yes, but unfortunately this “common sense” that people talk about really isn’t very sensible! If you don’t believe it then how do you explain those drivers on the motorways who think it’s fine to sit six inches off the preceding car’s tail lights while still doing 70mph in heavy rain? Would common sense have not told them that they haven’t got a snowball’s chance of stopping safely in an emergency? Have they never seen news reports about multi-vehicle accidents on motorways in bad weather?

  1. We don’t need a system – we’ve done it this way for years:

There are two possible explanations for why you haven’t had a problem yet. Either you’re doing things correctly (which is always good news) or you’re actually making mistakes which haven’t caught up with you just yet (which is always bad news). There is a philosophy underpinning Health & Safety theory which says that every time you commit an unsafe act, or allow an unsafe condition, you are rolling the dice. And that one day the dice will go against you with possibly catastrophic results! Having an effective management system in place means that you can rest assured you’re doing things properly and aren’t gambling with somebody else’s safety.

  1. We don’t need a system – it’s too expensive:

If you think health & safety management is too expensive to set up and run then try looking at the real cost of having an accident! Think about the cost of fines (possibly in six or seven figures); compensation claims; increased insurance premiums (assuming anybody is still willing to give you insurance!); damage to the firm’s reputation; amount of management time involved in investigating/ defending legal actions; and so on. Unsurprisingly, some companies never survive the financial aftermath of a serious accident.

We could go on, but we think you get the point.

To conclude, Health and Safety experts would argue that advocating such flawed – yet damaging – criticisms of proper Health & Safety practice should be seen as the hallmark of a poor director, one who is either incapable of doing his job properly or who is ignorant of his legal responsibilities.

We say this because surely a director who encouraged ignoring taxation law on the basis that it was complicated wouldn’t last long in the boardroom, and rightly so, so why should a director who advocates ignoring Health & Safety law be treated any more leniently?

Failing to pay taxes only costs money, whereas failing to provide effective health & safety management can cost lives!

About the author:

Andy has his own health & safety practice, Management & Safety Training Ltd, which in turn has its own specialist industrial accident investigation division, iNDAXCON. He is a highly experienced and internationally qualified investigator, consultant and trainer, qualified in both the health & safety and training sectors.

A Fellow of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management, a chartered safety & health practitioner (chartered both with IOSH in the UK and SIA in Australia) and a member of the UK Occupational Safety & Health Consultants Register (OSHCR), he has a proven track record in fields as diverse as accident investigation, lone worker safety, construction safety, and health & safety training.

Previously a specialist investigator with two élite UK law enforcement agencies (including responsibility for the management of complex international fraud enquiries) he became an accredited security trainer and assessor with the City of Bristol College. His move into the health & safety sector has included a wide range of training/ consultancy projects.

Sep 212015
 

“Health & Safety law just ain’t fair!”

by Andy Farrall

Andy Farrall Health & SafetyNot the most grammatical of headlines, I grant you, but the sentiment is one that many directors and managers might feel is well justified – especially if they’ve been on the receiving end of a Health & Safety prosecution.

Is their sentiment reasonable, or is it just a case of directors and managers expressing their resentment at having been caught out? Let’s look at the facts (and, just to be clear, I’m speaking here as a chartered safety practitioner and not as a lawyer).

The first thing to bear in mind is that the law treats breaches of Health & Safety legislation as criminal matters, as issues which are so serious as to justify punishment by either a fine or imprisonment (and sometimes both). Providing effective health & safety management is a clear legal requirement – not an optional extra.

UK criminal law normally works on the basis that the accused party must be assumed innocent until the prosecution proves beyond all reasonable doubt that they are guilty. Unfortunately for business directors and managers this situation doesn’t always apply in Health & Safety cases – even though these offences can be punished severely.

The problem lies with the wording of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, which is the underpinning legislation supporting health & safety in the UK.

The Act requires employers to do all “so far as reasonably practicable” to ensure the safety of their employees in the workplace. Note that this obligation represents a strict legal requirement in that the Act says that “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure …“

The Act also says that, should there be a dispute over whether the employer did all that was reasonably practicable to keep their employees safe, it will fall to the employer to prove that he had done all that he could. It is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that he fell short of the mark.

These may seem arcane points of boring law, but when taken together they form an explosive mixture.

Put simply, if there is an accident in the workplace resulting in an employee being injured then there is a clear case for saying that the employer has failed to take care of that employee’s safety. In order to defend himself against this charge the employer must actually prove his own innocence – he cannot just rely on challenging the prosecution case.

With all the above in mind it quickly becomes clear just why it’s so important for employers to plan in detail the management of their competent accident investigations – and draw up these plans before the accident happens.

Leave it all to chance, rely on a strategy of “it’ll be alright on the night”, and life could get both unpleasant and expensive!

About the author:

Andy has his own health & safety practice, Management & Safety Training Ltd, which in turn has its own specialist industrial accident investigation division, iNDAXCON. He is a highly experienced and internationally qualified investigator, consultant and trainer, qualified in both the health & safety and training sectors.

A Fellow of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management, a chartered safety & health practitioner (chartered both with IOSH in the UK and SIA in Australia) and a member of the UK Occupational Safety & Health Consultants Register (OSHCR), he has a proven track record in fields as diverse as accident investigation, lone worker safety, construction safety, and health & safety training.

Previously a specialist investigator with two élite UK law enforcement agencies (including responsibility for the management of complex international fraud enquiries) he became an accredited security trainer and assessor with the City of Bristol College. His move into the health & safety sector has included a wide range of training/ consultancy projects.

 

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