Shadow Boards are a new reality

By Abdul-Bashit Abdulai
Career & Money Photograph: monkeybusinessimagesGetty
MAY 8, 2022 LISTEN
Photograph: monkeybusinessimages/Getty

Most businesses are grappling with engaging and motivating their younger generation of staff as well as the inadequacies of top management, responding swiftly to the changing demands and challenges of the business environment. In an attempt to address this twin problem, some companies have resorted to the creation of ''shadow boards'' which is a group of younger employees, pooled from different functions, to work closely with top management in implementing some strategic initiates.

It provides the right channel for this talented gems to contribute their insights and perspectives which were hitherto unknown to the executive team, to the implementation of these strategic initiates; provide a learning curve for the younger employees; foster good communication and working relationship between the executives and the younger employees.

Some organizations like KPMG International have successfully created a shadow board called the Millennial Board in 2018. Gucci, a fashion giant, created a shadow board in 2015, made up of millennial who regularly meet with the executive team to discuss and implement some strategic initiates. Organizations such these, used shadow boards as vehicles to review and re-engineer their business processes, and operating models to deliver superior performance.

Though the approach of the shadow boards may vary from one company to another, most of these boards actively participate in drafting and implementing the company projects and strategies. They are given challenging and real life assignments on which they are required to identify the solutions and present to the executives for its consideration and implementation. Such organizations stand to benefit from knowledge transfer between the executives and the younger crop of staff and create an easy ground for success planning for future executives of the company.

For shadow boards to be effective and successfully in achieving its intended purpose, there is the need for top management involvement and support. The executives must not only empower and provide a two way communication with the younger employees, they should also provide them with the needed resources to effectively work. Some CEOs have demonstrated this by participating in the interview process. Again, there is the need for periodic review of the work of the shadow boards to identify and address its shortcomings. A look back assessment on the membership, tenure, and performance of the shadow board, is important to strengthen the board and provide the needed resources for its smooth operation.

Shadow boards are a new reality and the earlier organizations adopted them, the better they would be able to engage and empower their younger employees, and help executives respond adequately and swiftly to the changing challenges of business environment.