What the new Non-Exec Director brings to the business

  30 MAY, 2018      COMPANY UPDATES , INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
What the new Non-Exec Director brings to the business

John Palfreyman shares his thoughts on becoming the newly appointed Non-exec Director for Novus.

Novus is privately owned by John Seddon’s family. The family have been in business for over 120 years and have a very clear view of why they are in business together.

Following my appointment as Non-Executive Director at Novus Property Solutions, I recently had the pleasure of attending a “Non-Executive Directors (NED) in a Family Business” masterclass, run by the Institute of Family Businesses in association with the Financial Times.

This inspirational one-day session was delivered by practitioners with a wealth of first-hand family business experience.  The delegates were either engaged as NEDs, or seeking to appoint a NED into a family business leading to fascinating discussions in the breaks and breakout sessions.

These are my ten key “take-aways” from this session:

1. Clarity of role - for the NED to be successful, it is essential that there is total clarity of what is expected from them.  This needs to be shared with the board members - and (obviously) the NED - then periodically reviewed.

2. Champion of family culture - family businesses have a culture so clear “that you can taste it” (quote from one of the keynote speakers).  For example, Novus’ family values are documented here.  It’s essential that the NED understands, buys into and then champions the family values in all interactions with the business.  The NED must also speak up in the event that family culture and business goals misalign.

3. Balanced attributes - a NED is usually recruited to fill specific knowledge gaps at Board Level.  But the NED’s personal chemistry with family members and the Chief Executive Officer are equally as important and an essential pre-requisite for success.  The interpersonal aspects need to be nurtured through regular, informal interactions with the Board and family members.

4. Comprehensive on-boarding - the NED’s time to value is directly attributable to the quality and thoroughness of the on boarding process.  Gone are the days when an hour with the Company Secretary walking through the last Board pack will suffice.  The new NED must take time to get to know the Board, family members and Chief Executive Officer and their on boarding should include visits to selected remote office locations to understand how the company operates.

5. Complete objectivity - the NED must be totally objective (and be seen to be so) in their advice to the Board and Chief Executive Officer, and avoid forming closer ties with specific Board members.  The NED must also avoid getting involved in family or Board “politics” and forming “power axes” with other NEDs or Board members.

6. Mentoring - the NED is ideally placed to mentor selected Board and executive team members, including the ‘next generation’ family members.

7. External context - the NED brings external context into the family business, mitigating the risks arising from “it’s always been done like this” philosophy.

8. Successor planning - because of their objectivity and external context they bring, the NED is also ideally positioned to help with successor planning, to ensure that opportunities for key staff are achieved and the “flight risk” for key position holders is mitigated.

9. Challenging, but ego-free - the NED should (and must) challenge the Chief Executive Officer and family members where appropriate, but must do this in a sensitive, ego free manner avoiding confrontation and from a position of objectivity.

10. Sounding board - the NED must be available to the Chief Executive Officer and family members for brainstorming, idea validation and so on.  Again, the NED will offer impartial, objective advice in these interactions acting as a “critical friend” to the business.

I am very excited to be able to fulfil the position of the Non-Executive Director for Novus after working in the information technology industry for 40 years, most recently with IBM at director level.

Novus has a history of innovation which has seen it embrace change and adapt to meet new challenges. It’s an exciting time to join the business as it looks to improve efficiencies through digitisation and leverage information for strategic advantage. I will be working with Novus’ Board of Directors to integrate information-led innovations into project delivery and business management.

 

SEARCH
RECENT POSTS
Dani Chose Novus

DANI CHOSE NOVUS

Dani Robert Wrights tells us why she joined Novus when she was looking for progression… I had previously worked for a larger corporate business, where I felt like a number. My line manager manged so many people you wouldn’t have been surprised if they didn’t recognise you when they saw you. At the end of my time at my previous employment I did some training towards becoming a site supervisor however when I left I didn’t have the experience to go for this role straight away. I came to Novus looking for progression in February 2017. I wanted a business to invest time and effort into me. I’m not a job hopper so wanted to make sure this move was the right one. As soon as I met the team I knew things would be different at Novus. Since joining Novus I’ve developed much faster than I expected to. Joining Novus as a Contract Liaison Officer (CLO) I joined Novus as a Contract Liaison Officer (CLO) where my role was to keep communications flowing between site teams, clients and office colleagues. A big part of the role was customer communication – lettering procedures, satisfaction surveys, pre-entry information, and engagement sessions to ensure that all of our customers were kept informed throughout the work. Refurbishment and Decoration Work The majority of my work was with residents of housing associations, councils and care homes where we were carrying out cyclical decoration or kitchen and bathroom refurbs.  My role meant I came into contact with lots of different people and no two days were ever the same – I could spend days in the office or equally I could have been visiting three different sites in a day.  I liked the variety the job gave me, and it definitely kept me busy! Social Value Projects Part of Contract Liaison Officer role was to head up social value projects.  I’ve organised a wide variety of events from refurbishing community spaces, to teaching people with learning difficulties painting skills whilst decorating an internal space for them to making donations.   In my new role as Site Supervisor I have had the exciting challenge of supervising the Big 5 Project in Birmingham but from a different perspective. Now I am responsible for co-ordinating the works, making sure we stick to programme and stay within the budget, as well as ensuring my colleagues health and safety remains at the forefront of everything we do. The Novus Difference What makes Novus different is the close working relationships.  The directors visit and they know you by name, which makes you feel like a valued part of the team. I also have a strong support network of colleagues around me.  There’s always someone you can direct questions to. It’s no surprise to me that when people come, they stay. If you are looking for a company where you can progress, like Dani was, why not look through our current vacancies.