Aged care boards should proactively look beyond regulatory minimums when undertaking director recruitment and succession planning, a governance expert tells Australian Ageing Agenda.
Ahead of an upcoming virtual appearance at the Canadian conference Nonprofit Board Online Summit 2023, Michael Goldsworthy – principal consultant at Australian Strategic Services – who is speaking on director recruitment and succession, said he was keen to see aged care boards proactively address their composition.
Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda, Mr Goldsworthy said aged care boards should take a wider view of director recruitment and succession than just the governing body requirements – which come into effect on 1 December 2023 for providers approved prior to 1 December 2022, or from the date of approval for organisations approved after 1 December 2022. Under the requirements, providers must have:
- a majority of independent non-executive members; and
- at least one member with experience in providing clinical care.
“These are important regulatory requirements approved providers are required to meet. It is important to note however they are part of the minimum standards that the aged care regulatory framework creates,” Mr Goldsworthy told AAA.
“Aged care boards can look beyond these regulatory minimums when undertaking director succession and recruitment. The aim being to recruit directors with the skills, knowledge and experience to govern and drive the organisation’s core business, and whose personality types and values alignment allow them to constructively contribute to the work of the board.
“An organisation’s core business or reason for being – their raison détre – helps determine the focus of the organisation and thereafter what services it does or does not deliver. It should not however describe the organisation’s services. For most aged care organisations their core business will centre around enhancing the health, wellbeing and lifestyle of people who are ageing and have emerging or actual chronic and complex health conditions,” he said.
“A key benefit of an agreed and documented core business statement is that it can be used to inform the skills, knowledge and experience required on the board, thereby allowing the governing body to move beyond simply having professionals on the board – the accountant, the lawyer, the clinician.”
Two other key considerations Mr Goldsworthy said he often saw being overlooked or not closely scrutinised enough were a potential directors’ personality type and whether a potential director has a demonstrated alignment to the organisation’s values.
“Boards are made up of people who can be subject to the usual range of positive and negative human dynamics. However, it is vital they work collaboratively and strategically as a cohesive team.
“How well a person can work with others in a constructive and cohesive manner is heavily influenced by their personality traits, and there is significant research informing multiple assessment tools that can be used to gain insights into a person’s personality type and therefore how they think, work as an individual and engage as part of the board. In essence will there be the right chemistry.”
Mr Goldsworthy links the importance of demonstrated alignment to the organisation’s values to the need for a board to be developing and driving a defining board culture.
“Culture – the way we work around here – is a result of the attitudes, behaviours and work practices of individuals and teams, which are informed by individual and team values and beliefs. To develop and drive their culture boards should be recruiting directors who can demonstrate how their personal values align with the organisation’s and the way the board works. A practical example is the use of scenario-based questions during director recruitment interviews to glean insights into how and what values inform a director’s thinking.”
Ultimately a board needs to be proactively planning for and enacting its director succession and recruitment, he said.
“In doing so it should take account of the skills, knowledge and experience needed to govern and drive the organisation’s core business, individual director’s personality types and whether a potential director has a demonstrated alignment to the organisation’s values.”
Access the Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission’s guidance on upcoming governance changes for approved providers here.
The Nonprofit Board Online Summit 2023 is hosted by the Canadian Society of Nonprofits and will run 13 May 2023 Canadian Central Daylight Time – which is 15 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time.