Yesterday I said I agreed with Blues Trust’s proposal to increase the number of members on their board. I was planning to write something more critical about their proposals1 today. The trust’s message to members had invited me to “Debate, review, challenge and have your say.” and I was ready to do all of that. But then I listened to Steve McCarthy talking to Forza Blues on Sports Radio2 and that made it harder for me to be too critical.
Steve is the Chair of Blues Trust and as I listened to him speak I was reminded that he and the other members of Blues Trust Board are a nice bunch of guys. They are passionate about their club and have devoted chunks of their busy lives to getting the trust up and running. So when I heard one of the Forza Blues presenters say that some Birmingham City fans view the trust as a closed shop, I was sad. Sad but not surprised because the trust hasn’t done too brilliant a job of communicating with fans. I don’t have the time to read every Tweet on the trust’s Twitter account or check their other social media but I do read their website and have noticed that it isn’t always up-to-date. I think this is because they haven’t had time to put the information on the site and not because they are trying to hide something.
So my first bit of advice for the board is that they shouldn’t try to do everything. I don’t think any of them can devote all of his time to Blues Trust; they do have jobs, families and lives. There are lots of activities that would be good to do but they can’t possibly do all of them. They have to sort out their priorities and communication with their own members should be near the top of the list.
My next piece of advice for the board is that when they do write to their members they should use the same kind of language they’d use if they were chatting to them in a pub. For example, instead of saying that they will seek to “provide a person specification outlining the attributes of a preferable candidate” they should say that they are on the lookout for some suitable people to help with the work.
Lastly, the best way to show that the trust is not a closed shop is to tell members how Blues Trust elections are run and explain that any3 full member nominated by two other members can be a candidate for election to the board. They should also encourage interested members to attend the board member training4 on July 6th.
To summarise my advice to board members:
- Don’t try to do everything.
- Make communication with members a priority.
- Provide information on the election process and available training for prospective board members.
And my advice to members?
- Go to the open meeting if you possibly can and talk to the board.
- Open Meeting Strategy Proposals
- Sports Radio Birmingham
- There are a few exceptions to this, for example someone subject to a bankruptcy order is ineligible to stand for election. All the details are in the Election Policy.
- Board Member Development