The five top insights HR NEDs and Trustees want you to know

NED Series Blog 3 –

In 2021, I conducted a research survey to learn from HR leaders who have made the move to holding a NED or Trustee role, alongside their day job. I was interested to learn more about this career step as were many of my coaching clients. I couldn’t find any similar research, so I did it myself. My goal was to help HR leaders learn more and have the confidence to make the step, along with sharing some tips and resources.

To download the full 25 page White paper with all the research findings click here and sign up for Positivity Bites, my monthly message.

For those who prefer bitesize chunks, here are the top five messages they shared:

1. Don’t wait.

The perception that you need to get to the top of the Executive tree before starting is not right – you have a lot to offer earlier in your career. 55% of respondents started their first NED/Trustee role in their 40s, 24% started in their 30s.

“HR leaders have a lot to offer and they shouldn’t wait”

2. You have the skills.

There has traditionally been a view that Boards only need finance and legal skills. This is outdated. As we know, people are key to organisations. HR Professionals have a lot of much-needed experience and technical skills including reward, talent, culture, future of work, organisation design, ESG, D&I, employee wellness and more.

“HR leaders are valuable to boards because they have a top-down, bottom-up understanding of how organisations operate”

3. Overall, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

The 52 contributors to the research shared a wide range of benefits they have gained from becoming a NED or Trustee which include increased understanding of business and governance. They have developed a range of skills including adaptability, the ability to challenge, commerciality, influencing and strategic thinking. They have gained greater perspective, feel more grounded and have experienced a growth in confidence in both their work and life. It has helped make them better in their day job.

They did highlight some disadvantages to be aware of. The two key ones being the time commitment (over a third said it was a bigger time commitment than expected, double or triple the advertised time) and the need to adjust your way of working, moving to advising not doing and adjusting to working at a slower pace in some sectors.

4. Being proactive increases your chances of getting a NED/Trustee role

Only 13% of those surveyed were approached by a head-hunter about the opportunity. 27% got the role through their network and another 27% applied to a job post. However, many HR professionals admit that networking isn’t always a focus area.

“The majority of HR leaders I talk to say their own network is either non-existent or not as strong as it should be”

5. Preparation is key.

Next steps to take include:

Getting clarity on your unique selling point. What value can you bring to a Board?
Writing your Board CV. This is different to your Executive CV.
Updating your LI profile. Ensure it showcases who you are and what you do. Also make sure it says you are open to NED or Trustee opportunities.
Investing time in networking now and in the future.
Actively searching for roles that would be right for you.

The White Paper includes a range of resources which you may find helpful. Click here to download it and to sign up for Positivity Bites, my monthly message.  

Other blogs in the series:

Nine things to do before beging a NED or trustee alongside your day job

Ten tips for breaking into the trustee or NED world

If you would like the support of a Career Coach, read the Individuals page on my website to learn more about working with me.

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