Governance best practice
Communicating with trustees and stakeholders
Set your trust up for success with a culture of open, honest and respectful communication.
Good communication with owners and between trustees will help:
- ensure the success of the trust
- keep owners engaged
- enable trustees to get things done
- avoid disputes.
What is effective communication?
Effective communication is an exchange of information, kōrero, ideas, whakaaro. It is important for whānau to create an environment to help foster this kind of communication.
For communication to be effective, you need to be able to get your own point across clearly, and hear and understand what others are saying. You should:
- ask questions when you don't understand something
- share information in the right way at the right time
- consider the tone and delivery of your kōrero (or document) for the audience.
What trustees should communicate to owners
Good communication between trustees and owners is essential for an effective trust.
At a minimum, trustees must keep owners updated on:
- the trust's financials
- anything happening on the whenua, for example if a lease is running smoothly or if there have been any issues.
To help keep owners engaged, trustees should communicate about:
- what the future looks like — get owners involved in conversations about this
- the trust's progression — how work is progressing against the strategic plan, how effectively the trust is running.
There will be times when trustees don't agree with each other, or when owners don't agree with what trustees are doing. This can be a positive thing, as it ensures debate about decisions and helps you consider different viewpoints.
Managing any kind of disagreement requires:
- open, respectful communication, including listening to each other
- an understanding of where each person is coming from, empathy for our whānau
- using a mediator when needed — someone not involved in the disagreement, or a professional mediator.