Provide a buddy or mentor for your new trustee from the start and ideally for at least a year. As well as helping them with the induction and first meeting, the buddy or mentor can check in regularly with the trustee on how they are doing, their engagement with the role, and their feedback on meetings and other aspects of the work. They can discuss how the person is progressing and their development needs.
Recognise people’s existing talents and capabilities, but also their potential and ambitions for the future. Identify gaps in their experience and skills with them and put together a development and training plan.
Where possible, you could provide training and capacity building opportunities in-house, including through a mentor or staff in your organisation, or you can link people with resources and training opportunities elsewhere. Offer these opportunities to all trustees, not just those with lived experience, so as not to single people out and to ensure equality of opportunity.
Think about whether the person's skills and experience are being well utilised and, once they are more confident, how you can support them to take on more responsibility, such as a specific role or area of work. You can manage this through an incremental and structured process of new challenges, with the support of the buddy/mentor.
When appropriate, you could explore extending someone's involvement with the board in a role such as treasurer, vice-chair or chair. One Trustee with lived experience described how he had been supported to eventually take the role of the co-chair, with the support of the former chair and an external mentor who helped with strategic planning and vision work.
Create opportunities for people to attend some of the daily work of the organisation and interact with the staff, to make the most of the learning opportunity and to help them contribute more effectively to the board’s discussions and decision-making.
Check in regularly with people on their personal circumstances and either support them with well-being activities, celebrate with them, or acknowledge their successes, depending on what is happening in their life.
Messages of support and encouragement from the whole board and an e-card or gift in the form of a voucher for specific occasions can be highly appreciated. Also involvement in fun social activities, such as a quiz night or cook in. All this helps to build relationships of trust and creates bonds with the whole trustee team.
When it’s time for someone to end their role as trustee, for whatever reason, take care to manage the ending well. You will want to make sure that their contribution is recognised, valued appropriately and appreciated, and to acknowledge the relationships that have been established with other trustees, which will hopefully be enduring.
These resources are built by you, for you.
Email us if there’s anything you would like to add.