The context

In my last blog, I opened a conversation about the MAT landscape and the governance of trusts. With the Schools White Paper dominating board agendas across the country, I identified three areas that challenge boards when they go out to recruit Trustees and Members as they move from schools to MATs. I have suggested that the most common methods of recruiting do not yield the best results, and those are:

  • Relying on your current network can impact diversity in your board and limit the ways of thinking within it. Boards should reflect the community that it serves in their makeup. This does not mean that everyone in the trust must be from the area, but a board should seek to be as diverse as the demographic it serves.
  • Recruiting professionals from the locality, and not looking beyond your locality. As the trust sector grows and begins transcending regions, the boards that drive them forward should also.
  • Recruiting like-for-like skills that you have always had in your board, rather than considering the current situation of your board, strategy, trust, and the wider landscape. There is a need to update skills audit processes to recruit skills that will drive your trust forwards.

In this blog, I will outline the most effective ways that we have seen boards tackle these issues and operate their recruitment strategy more effectively.

How can we overcome these recruitment challenges and improve our board?

This is not a magic wand, and I cannot guarantee that your recruitment issues will be resolved with a simplistic formula. However, I need to make it clear that these issues stem from recruitment practices that may not be covering all the necessary bases to yield successful outcomes, and if you are facing any of the above issues, I would implore you to analyse how you recruit to your board.

There must now be a mindset switch to recruit to boards expertly, proactively, and thoroughly.

Relying on network-based recruitment strategies may not bring about change. We understand that recruitment is difficult and can be time-consuming, so we recognise that many boards may feel inclined to use their ‘little book of contacts’ to help ease the process. However, this practice has been taking place across many schools and MATs for years, and I need only to point you to part one of this series and anecdotes above to evidence that this is unlikely to bring about the change needed and the skills required.

Best recruitment practice is not simply placing an advert onto an advertising site for two weeks and responding to the interest that comes in. It is understanding where to advertise, how to advertise, and what to advertise as the key aspects of your role. When a prospective candidate comes to interview for your position, your expectation is for them to ‘bring their A-game’, and so to find the best talent, you too, must be as proactive and ‘bring your A-game’. This means engaging with them from the moment they consider applying, right up until the day that they interview.

Asking the clerks or governance professionals to source candidates, (on their often part-time, term-time only contract) will not help you broaden your horizons when finding new trustees. It adds an additional workload pressure to individuals whose skillsets may not naturally lie in this area. To broaden your reach and find the most relevant talent, you must dedicate the right resources, care and attention to your recruitment process. Working with your HR and resourcing team to help them understand your governance needs is one option, or reaching out to employers in the region and asking their HR teams to consider sharing the opportunities with their employees is another. You could look to free governor recruitment services or consider working with a specialist recruitment partner.

How can we help?

At Peridot Partners, we thrive on the challenge of attracting the very best people to your board. We’ve been recruiting both paid and voluntary Trustees/Governors/NEDs to charity, university, college, and other non-profit boards for years, and through helping to create better leadership, we have often helped these organisations to grow and develop beyond their expectations. It’s now time for schools and MATs to realise the benefits that can be achieved through professional recruitment support for non-executive roles.

I believe that it starts with us having a conversation about what you need on your board. If you are not entirely sure, we can also help with skills audits, board reviews, as well as general guidance and advice on board performance.

The big benefit of recruiting through us is that we research, approach, and engage a targeted list of people with the skills that you need and who have probably not considered a board role at a MAT and school until we had invited them to. As your partner, we represent you, and through speaking to and meeting hundreds of people throughout the search process; telephoning, meeting face-to-face and encouraging them to make an application, we can generate a shortlist of candidates that no advertising or ad hoc process can compete with.

There’s no greater feeling for us, at Peridot Partners, than seeing your organisation succeed, because of the people we find for you.

Eddie Caviezel Cox is our Business Manager for Schools and Education Charities and an expert in finding and recruiting the right people in all areas of the education sector, having worked in recruitment throughout his career. He brings a person-centred, values-led approach to all projects to ensure that the leaders he is placing are the right people to take organisations of great social importance forwards. By placing the right leaders in Schools, Multi-Academy Trusts and Education charities, we are able to make a difference where it matters most. You can connect with Eddie on LinkedIn or send him an email.