In the past few weeks, I have spent time with individual directors and entire boards in a particularly wide range of companies. The companies they serve represent the entire spectrum of publicly traded entities, from high-tech entities with $100 million market caps to multi-billion dollar multi-national spectaculars.
Maybe because we’ve been lucky or maybe because the corporate directors who choose to interact with NACD are among the more conscientious of the category, our impression is that, for the most part, the people in these roles are diligent in their efforts to serve the stakeholders they represent.
While most corporate directors seem to be actively engaged with the basics of the company’s performance and how shareowners and the public view the company– reading press releases, checking out earnings reports and perusing company web sites – there may still be a disconnect in understanding what is going on at a ground level.
Here are a few starting points corporate directors can use to gain a deeper understanding:
- Set up a Google Alert for news about the company and read what’s being written.
- Troll the job websites to see what people are saying about what it’s like to work there. LinkedIn, particularly, is revealing of corporate culture and diversity. Search for your company (and check out NACD’s LinkedIn group!).
- Read relevant consumer and industry blogs, and/or go on Facebook.com to see how the company shows up in the eyes of others.
- Regularly have an inexpensive lunch or have coffee or meet in other informal settings with company employees other than the CEO and the executive team.
- Listen in on earnings/analyst calls.
- Sit quietly at employee “town meetings.”
- Sit through new-employee orientations.
- Purchase company products or interact with the company in the exact same way as the general public does, with no special treatment (or even awareness) on the part of company employees.
How else do you keep your finger on the pulse? Share your practices and ideas below.