How to get the most from your company secretarial team

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Gone are the days when Company Secretarial (Cosec) teams were seen as pure diary managers for meetings and agenda and minute drafters.

Today, the Cosec function is expected to act as a catalyst in building accountability and control, driving ethical decision making and safeguarding against legal and regulatory breaches to name but a few. Cosecs are the organisation’s governance experts and a well-functioning, efficiently run Cosec team makes the organisation’s governance strong. However, hiring the right team alone is never going to do the trick! There is a lot more work to be done to build an effective and efficient team; to reach peak performance the team must know what good looks like and more importantly how to get there.

Taking action

The Cosec profession has evolved across all sectors in a range of different organisations – from private companies to public sector and not-for-profit. The role has evolved too from simply guiding and supporting the Chair and the board on their responsibilities and completing the associated administration. Teams now cover stakeholder engagement and governance, compliance with multiple rules and regulations as well as having responsibility for departments such as facilities, HR and reward, risk management, insurance and investor relations. Other areas include understanding and embedding through governance the principles of the ‘E’ and the ‘S’ in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), driving the Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) agenda and raising the standard of governance across the organisation.

In spite, of the skills and experience Cosec’s have to cover this broad remit many remain entangled in the administrative aspects of the day job. Elevating the position is however vital to realising the role’s true potential and providing a much-needed skill set within the organisation. To make this shift takes a changemaker mindset and clear performance related metrics focused on governance goals not the administration. Cosecs needs to see beyond their normal course of duties and develop the skills to be self-driven while being intuitive and sensitive to the thoughts and ambitions of board directors, in particular the CEO and CFO.

Staying up to date on changes in corporate governance is a given. To be a true changemakers you need the ear of the board and executives, an ability to communicate in the recipient’s ‘language’ whilst managing a multidisciplinary role.

Automating the admin

Every company secretarial team has administrative responsibilities; conducting board and shareholder meetings, preparing agendas, maintaining signatory lists, form filings, minuting etc, the list goes on. For many Cosecs doing the admin is their full-time job, yet they are also expected to provide expert advice on governance matters; two very different skillsets. It is not surprising then, that governance can be treated as a ‘tick box’ exercise when in fact it should be the catalyst that enables the Cosec department to move from a cost consumer to a value creator.

It is empowering when Cosecs understand how a large part of the admin work can be automated, pre-planned and streamlined, you just need to know how. Providing a 5-star admin services will never enable you to become a true governance professional providing solutions to real business problems.

Doing things differently brings immense value

There are numerous examples of company secretaries who have risen to leadership roles transforming their departments and making their organisations supporters of good governance.

The difference lies in bringing about a change in the mindset of the Cosec teams to become problem solvers, fantastic communicators and supporters not stoppers of organisational progress. In today’s dynamic environment Cosecs need a great network, to train themselves to have solutions ready, have clear vision and foresight and develop strong EQ.

Developing your team

It is essential for any Cosec Head to understand each person in the team and really listen to them, sometimes the best ideas come from those closest to the ground. Constant motivation, inspiration and appreciation is the key. Managing individuals to ensure their maximum effectiveness in the workplace means recognising individual strengths and making appropriate matches when skills need to be supported and developed. It’s about inspiring the team to develop new skills, strategies and ways of working. Sometimes change needs to be seen with real world examples that embed the new thinking and then our Reinvention as a Governance Guru day course may be exactly what the team needs to set them on the right track.

Supporting your growth

We, at Beyond Governance acknowledge that good governance is critical to business success, but it is rarely optimised. Governance has the power to transform an organisation’s culture and positively affect the output and productivity of every person within it but done badly, it makes an organisation cumbersome and slow.

Having worked in-house for many years our team has first-hand knowledge of similar issues to those you face. We have developed Cosec team performance matrixes and measures to impart the right mindset and necessary skills. Our focus is on supporting your team to become more effective and efficient at their jobs whatever their level from Trainee to Group Company Secretary and as needed the whole team.

We work best alongside your in-house team supporting the day-to-day governance and company secretarial tasks and along the way imparting our advice and guidance. We provide Cosec team efficiency audits and bespoke governance health checks to ensure all aspects of your governance framework are working efficiently and effectively and where governance shortfalls are found we provide simple actionable creative solutions. For those individuals/ teams that need a step change we can also provide Cosec strategy, objective setting, team benchmarking, appraisals and training.

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