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Managing people

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Board members will need to make sure that the charity follows current employment law if the charity employs individuals. This includes:

  • full or part time
  • casual or temporary.

Putting in place policies, procedures and processes will help mean the charity remains legal and establishes a good work environment.

The employment policies and procedures section will help trustees define, regulate and inform how their organisation operates.

Working with the chief executive

A chief executive is the most senior staff role in a charity and is often the public face of the organisation. They:

  • report to and are held accountable by the board (but in rare circumstances can be a member of the board)
  • manages the staff team
  • responsible for leading the organisation on a day-to-day basis.

For a charity with a staff structure, it’s common for this to be led by a chief executive who manages the staff team. They have responsibility for leading the organisation on a day to day basis. The ongoing management of the chief executive is normally delegated to the Chair. The Chair and Chief Executive can meet regularly.

The relationship between the board and chief executive

The relationship between a board and the chief executive should be a partnership. Although the board remains responsible for all of the charity’s work, it’s common that wide-ranging authority will be delegated to the chief executive to run the charity. It’s helpful for a board and chief executive to agree on how they want to work together.

We recommend framing this discussion on the relationship around the two key areas below. The questions here are designed to guide your discussion.

What policies and procedures should be put in place?

  • Are there employment policies which need to be established?
  • How will we determine the chief executive's remuneration and reward?
  • What are the expectations on working patterns?
  • What are the expectations of the chief executive to report to the board?
  • How will evidence of performance be gathered and monitored?
  • If not the chair, who on the board will take a lead in the line management?
  • How regularly will the chief executive have 121s?
  • What matters does the board not wish to delegate to the chief executive?
  • How do we define the role of the chief executive and how is this reviewed?
  • Where will we capture the delegation to the chief executive?

What behaviours will guide the relationship?

Working together

Clearly defining the chief executive role and expectations helps to make sure responsibilities are clear. This also helps the board understand what decisions the chief executive has the delegated authority to make.

The board should set out realistic and achievable personal objectives for the chief executive. The regular meetings between the chair and chief executive are an opportunity for the Chair to monitor progress against personal objectives, offer support and discuss priorities.

In board meetings, the chief executive should be expected to report on progress against the charity's strategy and objectives. This is different from the management relationship the Chief Executive has with the Chair in that it is an opportunity for the board to collectively examine the work of the organization together.

The nature of a chief executive’s role varies depending on lots of factors such as the charity’s income size, areas of work. I’is helpful to view the relationship as a balance which needs to be regularly reviewed and discussed.

Further information

Volunteer management

The governing body must make sure it has the appropriate policies and processes in place to support and manage staff and volunteers. Boards need to make sure the Charity has a clear approach to volunteer management.

The recruiting and managing volunteers section helps board members understand the role of volunteers and establish these systems.

Further information

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 29 April 2022

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