Michael McDonagh, Chairperson of Boardmatch Ireland
Senior Business Director – Hays Recruitment
Dealing with Challenges and Learning as a Charity Trustee
“You have to be mindful that, as a Director or Trustee, you are less hands on operationally than you might like to be – you need to be able to let go and trust the executive team to deal with the day-to-day issues”
Why did you choose to take on a voluntary directorship?
Having worked for Hays Recruitment for 15 years, I wanted to test my skills in another environment. I also felt a strong sense of wanting to give something back. Finally, I thought it would be good for my career – the opportunity to build a new network, give myself some profile and see how I could cope at board level.
What challenges do you encounter whilst being on a board?
The main challenge has been the transition from a very large organisation with good resources (in my day job) to a very small organisation with limited resources.You have to be mindful of the fact that things you could get done in your day job with relative ease are much tougher in this environment. You therefore have to be creative and think about how you can try and achieve the same quality outcomes on a smaller budget and with less resources. You also have to be mindful that, as a Director or Trustee, you are less hands on operationally than you might like to be – you need to be able to let go and trust the executive team to deal with the day-to-day issues.
How do you approach conflict resolution on your board?
Thankfully, the Board of Boardmatch Ireland is experienced and everyone understands why we are there – to work independently to improve governance in the not-for-profit sector by strengthening Boards’ composition. Any conflicts that have arisen tend to be against the back-drop of understanding that everyone wants the organisation to move forward. When we have had disagreements, talking it through, taking into account other Directors’/Trustees’ positions, is crucial to finding a way through. We have also developed clearer expectations of the role of a Director/Trustee on the Board of Boardmatch, so everyone knows what is expected of them.
How important is teamwork and collaboration in relation to board effectiveness?
Very important. We have developed and continue to develop the sub-committee structure in order to support the executive team in a more cohesive way. The Board has been excellent in volunteering for roles on sub-committees. I think the Board and the executive work very well together – it is important to have constructive criticism (that’s part of the role of the Board), but again with the understanding that everyone is trying to get to the same place.