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It’s not common for Google to not be the dominant search engine in a given territory. But in the case of Russia, Yandex holds around 52% of the total market share, with Google holding 46%.

What’s also uncommon is that this data is made publicly available by Yandex, by aggregating data from Yandex Metrika (Yandex’s version of Google Analytics) into the Yandex.Radar Tool.

A lot has happened in the Russian search market over the past couple of years, starting with a FAS (Federal Antimonopoly Service) ruling against Google in 2023.

The ruling meant that Google had to open up the Android operating system more, allowing users to easily change default search engine away from Google.

This has had a significant impact on Yandex’s Android penetration.

Further to my interview with Seznam, I’ve worked with Yandex on getting insight into the changes that have happened in Russia over the past two years, as well as answers to some common Yandex questions.

I’d like to thank Melissa McDonald, Elena Pershina and Anastasia Nazarenko for their time and cooperation in making this interview happen.

Since the 2023 FAS ruling against Google, meaning they had to open up Android to competition, third-party data sources have shown Yandex’s market share continuing to rise against Google. What do Yandex estimate to be the state of play in Russia in terms of market share now in 2023?

In August 2023, Google introduced a choice screen on Android that provided over 55 million users in Russia with the option to select their preferred search engine. The choice screen offers an option for users to choose Yandex, Google, or chúng tôi as the default search engine for Chrome mobile.

This change opened up the Android platform, and users have been selecting the option that works best for them. Since this change, we have seen a significant impact on our mobile search market share.

Yandex’s search market share on Android devices has increased by approximately 12% from 40% in August 2023 to 52% in June 2023.

Overall, Yandex’s market share in Russia is 56%, and our mobile search market share in Russia is continuing to grow, most recently reaching 49%, up from 39% in August 2023.

How capable is Yandex in terms of processing JavaScript websites?

We started testing with JavaScripts and CSS in 2023 (in Russian), and it has dramatically increased since then.

We, therefore, suggest webmasters open their sites in chúng tôi for the indexing robot. This also helps ensure that there are no problems with the load on the site server when the robot calls for these files.

Does Yandex give any preference to URLs that contain Cyrillic versus Latin characters?

Yandex does not give any preferences for URLs containing Cyrillic or Latin. However, we recommend webmasters use a clear structure and human-readable URLs on their sites.

How big of a factor is mobile usability in Yandex’s ranking determinations?

Mobile loading speed and user-friendliness are extremely important to Yandex search rankings.

Yandex has been taking significant steps to lead efforts for the growing mobile audience in Russia – recently mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic for the first time.

In February 2023, we launched the Vladivostok algorithm, which takes into account the mobile-friendliness of pages, including the size of webpage content, vertical scrolling, and accessibility on mobile devices.

In November 2023, we opened up our Turbo-pages technology for publishers that allows publishers to create light versions of pages that open quickly on mobile even with a slow connection.

Turbo-pages load about 15 times faster than regular pages and the speed is achieved by optimizing layout, storing page content on Yandex servers, and using our own content delivery network.

From the launch of Turbo-pages to the end of 2023, more than 10,000 websites created Turbo versions and Turbo-pages appeared in more than 45% of the search results for queries from mobile devices.

In 2023, there were over 10 billion visits to Turbo-pages and tens of millions of unique users selected Turbo-pages.

Turbo-pages bring several benefits, namely saving time – we calculated that last year Turbo-pages saved 317 years that would have been spent by website visitors waiting for pages to download.

Does Yandex have any issues in processing websites that utilize CDNs?

No, we have no issues processing websites that utilize CDNs or even special recommendations for it.

We always support technologies that help users to more efficiently navigate sites.

How much of an impact have you seen voice search have on the Russian market?

Voice search is still in the early stages compared to Western markets but it is continuing to gain wide adoption.

Yandex introduced the Russian market to voice search in October 2023 with the launch of our intelligent assistant, Alice, in our search app.

Today, approximately 20% of queries in the Yandex search application are voice queries to Alice.

Alice has over 35 million monthly active users across multiple platforms that range from our smart speaker, Yandex.Station, to our in-car infotainment system, Yandex.Auto.

Not only have more users started to regularly rely on voice search but more smart products are being developed for the Russian market and other search providers have since launched their own voice search capabilities in Russia.

How do you see the use of voice search developing within Russia in the coming years?

We believe that voice search together with smart devices will continue to increase in popularity.

Over the coming years, as the technology improves, the integration into smart devices from home appliances to connected cars will spread the use of voice search.

We envision voice search to become as ubiquitous as the use of Wi-Fi. Anywhere there is connectivity, there will likely be some form of an intelligent assistant to help users with their queries and commands.

How big a role does the Alice virtual assistant have to play in the future of virtual assistants?

Yandex has been leading the way for the future of intelligent assistants in Russia.

We have combined our search, machine learning, and speech recognition technologies to build an ecosystem around Alice to the benefit of users and businesses.

We then added Yandex.Dialogues, a skills platform for third-party developers, which led to businesses introducing tens of thousands of new skills such as ordering pizza from Papa John’s, or exercising with Reebok.

At the same time, we also put out our first smart speaker, Yandex.Station, and added Alice to multiple other platforms that expanded its usability from Yandex.Navigator to Yandex Browser.

Alice is also on third-party devices such as the LG XBOOM speaker, which exclusively integrates Alice in Russia.

Most recently, Yandex unveiled Russia’s first smart home ecosystem powered by Alice. Alice can now turn on lights, adjust a thermostat, control a TV, or even make coffee.

Leading manufacturers such as Philips, Xiaomi, Samsung, and Redmond will offer Yandex smart home compatible products, including smart bulbs, plugs, and appliances.

Yandex’s smart home system runs on an open API, enabling third-party manufacturers to integrate their smart devices.

How often does Yandex update its ranking criteria/algorithms?

We regularly update our algorithms. We update our algorithms so frequently that we do not make separate announcements for most of them.

We typically announce and provide official names of algorithms that are significant updates and change the general approach to the layout of search results.

For example, Vladivostok, the mobile page ranking algorithm that we mentioned earlier, which was named in honor of the capital of the Russian Far East region because it has the largest share of mobile Internet users in Russia.

Moving away from search for a moment, how popular are Yandex’s other assets (such as Direct, YaBrowser, Maps, Metro, Taxi, etc.)?

Yandex is the market leader in almost all of the product segments you mentioned.

After more than two decades of building intelligent products and services powered by machine learning, we have come to offer Russian users an entire ecosystem that helps them better navigate both the online and offline world.

How popular are services such as Maps in comparison to their Google counterparts?

Yandex services remain the most popular among Russian users.

Yandex.Maps, for instance, has long helped Russian users get from point A to point B, as the leading mapping service in Russia.

Today, the service helps tens of millions of users also find points of interest, check transport schedules, and get directions, among other features such as checking business hours and directly booking reservations from the search results.

The service, which Yandex built for the local market, is especially well known for having highly relevant and accurate results.

Google provides strong services in Russia that bring competition to the market and help drive innovation.

Our most recently, we added the “Good Place” feature, which awards certificates and distinctive stickers to the best organizations in their categories.

The Yandex ratings and reviews of organizations are an important consideration for users as they choose how they select points of interest in Russia.

More Resources:

Image Credits

Screenshot taken by author, July 2023

You're reading Yandex Seo: An Interview With The Yandex Search Team

Exclusive Interview With A Dev Team Member

First of all congrats for the job you did so far, but I think you already know that half of the world is supporting you!

Thanks! Me and my wife read your blog, and after you wrote about the Dev Team, we thought it would be a good idea to find you. Your blog is the first hungarian language blog or newsportal we communicate to directly.

Special thanks for that. Let’s start with who the members of the Dev Team (no names of course) are, and how you organize your work since you are living in different countries, continents.

Members of the Dev Team are software, electronics and cryptographics professionals from all over the world. The members of the team – or much more, the core – are from Hungary, France, Belgium, England, Russia, Israel, Ukraine and the USA. We work in a way, that we distribute our work files among us, and with team work, we put the ideas together. The average age is about 30 years old. Most of us don’t know each others name and never met each other.

How many are you?

Everyone has a full time job – and of course this has influence on the Dev Team’s work, but usually there are 15 active members working on the job at the same time.

How do you organize, where does the idea come from to hack the iPhone, and why did you set it up?

We are high tech enthusiasts and hackers… hackers in a good way. We like to crack things and see how they work. Most of us have worked with UNIX and OS X for a long time. Few of us knew the others from there, and other professionals have joined later, those whose work we appreciate a lot.

Do you get any threats or “feedback” from Apple? Did you have any contact with the company?

Apple never made contact with us. We make sure we never break the law when we release a new software. PwnageTool and QuickPwn are very complicated, because these softwares remove the necessary parts from Apple’s firmware. We NEVER release pirated softwares.

How much time do you spend on the crack, and other iPhone-related works?

We are working on it 24 hours a day. While one of us are working on it, others are sleeping, and we continually switch. IRC is running in the background all the time, even when we are working onour private jobs, so we have worked on the iPhone thousands of hours. I have to mention, that we spend a lot of money on special hardware and reverse engineering softwares, also from our own money.

Do you get any donation, do you make any profit out of the huge work you made anyway?

We finance everything with our own money. Most of the team has a good job that pays good money in the IT field. The Dev Team is our hobby and although it is very time consuming, yet it still is a hobby. We didn’t take money from anyone!

How many people cracked their iPhones with your program? Do you have any idea how much iPhone users freed their phones?

We have more than hundred thousand recurrent PwnageTool and QuickPwn users. It is hard to estimate how many exactly, but a lot.

Why it is so hard to unlock the iPhone 3G? What is the main difference between 2G and 3G that has prevented the unlock so far?

Apple and Infineon made a very serious work and made almost impossible to unlock the iPhone 3G. They learned from what we did with 2G and made the 3G much more safer.

How far are you from suceeding with the unlock?

This is secret of course.

How deep was the 2.2 baseband update? If you want to make a sim-unlock on this as well, do you have to start the job from scratch? So, if someone accidently updated the baseband, does he have to give up, or does he still have a chance to unlock his phone?

At the moment the exploits we used to run our codes on 2.1 and older basebands has been removed from 2.2. 2.2 closed the security breach we used to control the baseband as we wanted and at the moment 2.2 baseband is bad.

What do you mean “bad”?

In 2.2 baseband there is no such an exploit we can use, so it is bad :-).

What do you think about the sofware and hardware of the iPhone 3G compared to other smartphones?

The iPhone OS is based on UNIX/Mach operating system, and both UNIX and Mach is a result of many years of developement. G1 is using Linux, which has a similar story. Fortunately nowadays mobile processors are powerful enough to use UNIX.

What kind of deficiency does the iPhone OS have, and in which direction would you develop it, if it depended on you?

It would need to be more open.

Why and for who do you do your work?

First of all for myself, for us, and for the people who prefer an unlocked phone. We bought a flat in Budapest with my wife, and the agent does not come to our home every week to check if we had painted the walls red, does he? The situation is similar with the IPhone and other devices we buy as well.

What do you do on week days?

We work and play. We have a very special Hungarian Vizsla (deerhound), he keeps us busy all the time.

Why did you choose a pineapple as your logo?

Apple/Pinapple, Pwn/Own, PwnApple (Pwning Apple)

Get Over The ‘Next Big Thing’: An Interview On Seo With Duane Forrester

Duane Forrester, a Senior Project Manager at Bing who oversees Webmaster Tools, syndicates to SEJ his well-written, thoughtful blog pieces on SEO. Over late night emails, he answered my questions on SEO, our industry, and why we need to stop waiting for the “next big thing”.

In your first syndicated post for SEJ, you said, “Mostly what it means is that if a business is singularly focused (we’ll focus mainly on SEO this year, and focus on social later), you could be falling behind and not realize it.” That really stuck out to me. What are three strategies marketers can do to stay ahead of the curve to be proactive so they don’t get behind?

Content: Almost goes without saying, yet so many sites try for shortcuts. Searchers are looking for content, not optimized web pages, so why not feed them what they want? When thinking about content, think laterally – do your customers prefer to read or watch videos? Do they respond more to bulleted lists, or long form text? And gathering customers from organic search is the first step. How are you treating them after that? What are you doing to walk them through their research in deeper into your conversion funnel?

Pull. The. Trigger. When you uncover new data and see a way to get involved, give it a try. Don’t be afraid to apportion some of your budget to purely testing new ideas. Win or lose, you learn.

Bonus – invest in customers. Usability testing and in-person discussions will go a long, long way to helping you understand the mindset of your customer. And marketing is the task of using that knowledge to elicit a response. Tough to win when you’re guessing, but easy to win when they tell you, face-to-face, what they want.

You also mention that the department that does more than SEO (such as paid search, social media, customer service, print media, PR, and more) will be in greater demand. I think the responsibility to grow falls somewhat on each person that makes up a department. As individuals, how can we increase our experience to incorporate more of these skills?

When most SEOs started, they were often tasked with more than just SEO work. Today’s teams are usually a bit more specialized, but never lose sight of emerging trends (touched on above). Those who seek the trends are better positioned to predict the future. SEOs typically have access to so much data, spotting interesting trends is like a hobby. So a company would do well to exploit that inquisitive nature inherent in SEOs and apply what they can uncover in new directions. I keep calling out SEOs, but this applies equally to those in other discreet disciplines of search and social marketing.

One trend I’ve noticed in our industry is that people are obsessed with predicting the “next big thing” or what’s going to “change the game forever.” Do you like that approach, or is it more effective to keep your head down and focus on the present? (Or, is it a mixture of both?)

That being said, obtuse “fortune telling” might be my biggest pet peeve in the SEO world. If you have one, what is yours?

It’s got to be that every few months a new “OMG” something pops up, causing people to rethink their plans, reassign resources, and generally it all gets in the way of the main goal: making the business successful. If you’ve build a solid business, on a solid plan and you’re growing, then why be distracted by sideline chatter that is not affecting you? Spending even a week treading down the wrong path means lost time and progress in other areas. Our industry is all about the headline this week (as are most others, I realize), but raising your head every time someone blogs about X means you’re not focused on your goal.

Most Fortune 100 companies (and beyond) now take SEO and paid search seriously. Do you think the adoption process took longer than it should?

Gotta give this an “Oh heck yes!”, but then again, I’ve been an SEO for 15 years, so I might be biased. Seriously, though, the adoption timeline is about right. Some businesses have even beaten the curve, as is evidenced by how fast this industry went from a bunch of geeks speaking their own language to a $20B/year space. Large companies, like large ships, take time to reset their course. In the NEXT 10 years, you’ll see this work become ingrained and so intrinsic that no business will skip some form of it. Might not always be SEO as we know it, but the broader spread of marketing efforts: organic, paid, social, etc. will always be part of the marketing toolbox moving forward.

Random Bonus Question: I saw on Twitter that you are a “dog guy,” which makes me extremely happy. Care to share a little about your pups? Here are mine looking angry in Halloween costumes.

Diva is a 12-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Beautiful and dumb as a stump. Did I mention she’s very, very pretty? Merlot anyone?

Thanks Duane, for answering our questions! See more of Duane’s syndicated posts on his SEJ author page or check him out on Twitter.

Image Credits

Interview With Ryan Jones: Big Brand Seo, Social Media & More

Can You Tell Us About Your Current Job?

I’m the Senior Search Strategist at Team Detroit. We’re a full service agency owned by WPP. I spend the majority of my time working on Ford, Lincoln and Ford’s other online properties. Our team deals with everything from high level strategy down to creating META data. In addition to working on Ford, I spend a great deal of time evangelizing SEO within the agency as well as looking for ways to better integrate SEO into other departments – like paid search, social media, etc.

Can You Give Some Tips on Getting a Job at a Big Agency/Brand?

It all comes down to experience and passion. I’ve always believe that if you do what’s best for your client you’ll succeed no matter where you are. When I look around at the people in the SEO industry who are doing things I notice they all have a passion for search. SEO (and marketing in general) isn’t something you can turn off at 5pm when you go to the gym or the bar. Some of my greatest ideas have come up in random 11pm cross country calls with friends where we just talk about search, the auto industry, and random stuff.

I think the mark of a good SEO is somebody who not only does it for a living, but runs their own sites as well. Having a personal stake in the game is key to developing that passion. The first question I like to ask job applicants is “tell me about your biggest SEO success?” Not a lot of people have ready answers for that.

What Mistakes Do You See Big Brands Making in SEO and/or Social Media?

What is the Best Part of Working With a Big Brand?

I hesitate to say this because people might take it the wrong way, but what I like best about big brands is that I don’t have to do any link building. I take it for granted sometimes, but with a big brand, we don’t have to do much to get links. As long as we produce good content and make it easy to share the links usually take care of themselves. I know I sound like a Google blog post here, but it’s true. It’s also probably why I think a lot of SEOs hate link building. It’s just not as easy as it was a few years ago. I think that’s why link building is always a popular conference topic too – we’re all looking for quick fixes that just don’t exist.

Speaking of Conferences, Which Upcoming Conferences Will You Be Attending or Speaking At?

In Feb. I’ll be speaking on a panel about meaningful SEO metrics at SES Accelerator in San Diego. It’ll be my first time speaking at a conference and I have to admit I’m feeling kind of nervous. It should be an awesome session. I’ve also been told I need to try Phil’s BBQ while in town, so if anybody wants to meet up and get some ribs let me know.

I’m also going to be speaking at SMX West in San Jose. I’ll be giving a case study about moving domains on the domain migration panel, and I’ll also be moderating the Q&A for the “ask the search engines” panel doing the SEO site reviews panel. I’m not sure how submissions work for either of those, but if you’re going and want us to review your site or have a question for the search engine reps let me know and I’ll try to work something out.

I’d also love to attend SMX Advanced and Pubcon this year but we’ll see what happens.

Any Suggestions For New Conference Attendees to Make the Most of Their Experience? Which Industry News Items Have Irritated You the Most Lately & Please Tell us Why.

Oh boy…. A complete list of things that irritate me is usually readily available on my Twitter or Facebook – and updated by the minute. Right now mobile is a fun topic. There seems to be genuine disagreement in our industry on whether mobile and desktop search will converge or diverge and what strategies should be employed. I also just read a Webmaster World thread where SEOs were questioning whether on-page factors actually mattered in ranking. Don’t even get me started on that…

What Knowledge Do You Feel is Crucial if You Want to Do Well in the SEO industry?

The second biggest thing would have to be the ability to think like Google. It’s easy to get stuck in the webmaster mindset and forget that Google’s priority is to make search more useful to their customers. If more people designed their sites with that goal in mind the web would be a much better place. Think less about about “how can my site rank for this term?” and more about “what would a searcher want to find when they type in this term?” – then go make that site.

You Have a Feisty Social Media Reputation. How Important Is It to be Truly Yourself in Social Media?

Personal Questions

Mac or PC? Both. I use a PC for work because that’s what I was given. At home I have a macbook and an iMac for normal use, and a PC that I use when I code. (Coda on the Mac is nice, but I prefer editplus and SQLyog on my PC.)

Tweetdeck or Hootsuite? Tweetdeck – although lately it’s been kind of sluggish for me and I wish it handled conversations better.I have to give the Twitter iPhone app an honorable mention too.

iPhone or Droid? I love my iPhone. I wouldn’t ever go urban camping to get one, but I’ll continue buying iPhones for the foreseeable future.

Favorite drink/beer? Drink? Bourbon. Preferably Makers Mark or Basil Hayden’s. Beer? It’s got to be Shiner Bock – which is quite hard to get here in Detroit.

Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars

Favorite Sports Team? Red Wings, Tigers, Lions, and the University of Michigan – and since we get CBC here in Detroit, the sport of curling has really grown on me. It looks like so much fun. Anybody want to go try it with me?

Find Ryan on Twitter @RyanJones and thank you Ryan for taking the time to do the interview!

Paris Hilton’s Metaverse Avatar Collection: An Exclusive Interview With The Sandbox And 11:11 Media

Paris Hilton has launched her first avatar drop in The Sandbox, featuring 5,555 avatars inspired by her fashion legacy. The avatars are not only visually striking, with signature accessories such as DJ headphones, Sliving gloves, and fantastical fairy wings, but also playable across all experiences in The Sandbox’s metaverse, offering users a chance to embody Paris Hilton’s distinctive style in a virtual realm.

To learn more about Paris’ avatar collection, Metaverse Post interviewed Mathieu Nouzareth, CEO of The Sandbox in the US, and Cynthia Miller, the director of web3 and metaverse at 11:11 Media, Paris Hilton’s media content company.

The most notable part of this collection is that it reflects Paris’ own fashion-forward reputation, Nouzareth explains. Paris Hilton collection features 11 unique one-of-one creations, which represent a few of her most iconic looks: Her Marc Jacobs Met Gala couture gown; Aquarius Queen, inspired by the fact that she’s a proud Aquarius; a Disco Ball Head avatar, inspired by her love of nightclubs, DJing, and parties; a blue butterfly dress inspired by one of her Halloween fairy/pixie outfits; and an avatar inspired by “Alice in Wonderland” and jumping down the rabbit hole to enter the wild and topsy turvy land of the metaverse. 

As a bonus, the 11 lucky holders of these looks will receive a free VIP ticket to Paris: Live in Concert on June 7, 2023, at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles – a sold-out show where Paris will perform with some of her closest friends.

The Sandbox Partnership with Paris Hilton’s 11:11 Media

Paris Hilton, also known as the Queen of the Metaverse, has been a pioneer in the web3 space for much longer than people know or give her credit for. 11:11 Media forged a partnership with The Sandbox last year at SXSW as an extension of her metaverse exploration. 

“The vision was to extend Paris’ brand and personality into a virtual space, to champion creativity and self-expression within that community, and to keep innovating how to connect with her fans in new ways. So far, we’ve run two very successful game experiences and now an avatar collection, and are building and iterating with each launch,”

Miller said.

Each look was carefully curated and chosen among the many iconic fashions that Paris has had over the years. Whether it’s sitting front row at a fashion show or modeling the latest fashions herself, Paris is frequently at the forefront of fashion. 

“From her stunning Oscar de la Renta wedding dresses (plural!), her Marc Jacobs look for her debut Met Gala appearance, as well as epic Halloween costumes and her trademark Sliving gloves and sparkly DJ headphones, this collection captures the playful, stylish spirit of Paris Hilton. We weren’t afraid to lean into whimsy and be a little irreverent with these designs,” Miller added. “Translating all of those looks into voxels while keeping true to details isn’t easy. Paris was involved and hands-on with this collection, especially the 11 rare 1/1s, which was just such a fun, creative process.”

“We wanted to have a collection that represented her passion for fashion, as well as her creative spirit. So we collaborated closely to determine which looks would translate best into The Sandbox. We also worked closely with Paris and her team on the individual traits, so that they relate to each other and reflect Paris’ unique style,”

he added.

According to Miller, Paris has a truly unmatched power to be a bridge into web3 and the metaverse for brands and her fans. 

“We’ve already seen remarkable stats from her “Parisland” game in The Sandbox this spring, and the sheer numbers of new users and wallets she directly drove with that experience. When it comes to her avatar collection, we’re seeing lots of interest from Paris superfans that may not necessarily have been into NFTs previously; so I’m sure we’ll see lots of onboarding and cross-pollination between the Paris community and The Sandbox’s community,” Miller said.

Paris Hilton’s avatar collection is a celebration of self-expression and creativity with Paris’ fans and The Sandbox community, who are more engaged than ever. The collection is currently available for mint through an allow list.

Read more about previous Paris Hilton metaverse projects:

How The Board Should Oversee The Executive Team

If you’re a board member of an organisation, do you know how to relate to management? You know you’re supposed to oversee their work, but how should you do so? Micromanage? Hands-off? Should you involve them in discussions? How should you relay board deliberations? Do you apply them at all in major decisions? Or perhaps a need to know basis? In this guide we examine how the board should oversee the executive team.

Boards and management – who makes what decisions?

Let’s start with the obvious – management reports to the board. The board’s decisions always outrank management’s. 

But what kinds of decisions should each group make? 

The board generally makes high-level decisions, and management makes low-level decisions. The board’s decisions fall mainly into four categories: 

• HR-related decisions, especially CEO succession;

• financial decisions, like capital allocation;

• strategy and mergers & acquisitions; and

• governance decisions relating to organisational structure.

On the other hand, management typically implements the board’s vision, so their decisions tend to be tactical and operational. In other words, management will determine how to put into practice the actual vision of the board.

To take one example, the board is responsible for ensuring the organisation’s financial viability. If the revenues are not keeping pace with expenses, the board needs to take action in some meaningful way (maybe replacing the CEO, for example). However, it’s the responsibility of management to ensure that the organisation maintains its financial footing on a day-to-day basis. Ultimately, the financial buck stops with the board, but it’s management’s job to keep the ship afloat. 

Work to achieve the same vision

If you’ve ever been on a board or in a management position, you know the two sides don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to what the organisation is about. This is not always because there’s an inherent problem with the two groups. It’s usually just because board members are not involved in the organisation’s day-to-day activities and therefore don’t see what the management sees with the same regularity. 

Acknowledging that this inherent tension exists is the first step toward success since that removes the impugning of sinister motives by either side. Still, both groups need to work toward the same vision. According to Carol Stephenson, the board’s main job is to establish a compelling vision for the organisation, “a vision that recognises that a company has a purpose as part of a larger community.” More than that, for the sake of company morale, management needs to embrace the vision as well. If everyone in the organisation–board, management, employees–can get behind a shared vision, spirits will be improved, and productivity will likely go through the roof.

Oversee management without micromanaging

So far, we’ve established that boards should make high-level decisions, be on the same page with management, and oversee without micromanaging. Easy task, right? 

First, the board must communicate to management regularly, do so honestly, and deliver both good and bad news without reservation. 

Especially if an important decision is on the horizon, communication from the board to management should be done early and often. One of the quickest ways to kill morale is for management (and employees) to be blindsided by a consequential decision. Imagine a round of layoffs or a reorganisation with little to no notice from the board. The spirits of the whole organisation can be ruined with that kind of communication strategy.

For example, Nvidia empowers employees to give back to communities via its Inspire 365 Initiative. The company matches employees’ personal gifts all year round and encourages staff to volunteer during off-hours.

Additionally, Nvidia involves employees from the onboarding stage, presenting them with donation vouchers for a charity of their choice and monthly challenges for acts of kindness across various settings.

Based on Nvidia’s 2023 Financial Year Report, the company has successfully contributed more than $25 million through its combined donation efforts, collaborating with over 5,000 nonprofits across 50 countries.

Provide safe spaces for constructive criticism

Perhaps more importantly, allow for regular input from management on issues that matter. Again, this is a management principle that applies to anyone in leadership. Not only should you allow managers to solve their problems (with guidance), you should enable them to provide meaningful input into high-level decisions.

As board members, you make the final call. But you do so at your peril if you build a wall around your boardroom, resisting any ideas that might come from management. Not only will you diminish the management team, but you’ll also be excluding viewpoints from people who know more than you do about the organisation’s day-to-day functions.

Again, while you as a board member have the final say, you don’t know everything, and you don’t always have the correct opinion. Your perspective is limited, and you don’t always see everything you need to see to make the right call. That’s not your fault.

• invite management into low-stakes feedback sessions

However, when you set it up, ensure that management feels free to share its views without fear of recrimination. The goal is to gain valuable feedback and not create a threatening environment. Also, be sure to act on at least some of the feedback you receive. That way, your efforts to solicit feedback won’t be panned as empty gestures.

In conclusion, then, it’s clear that board-management relations are vital to the health of any organisation. And while there are many ways to damage those relations, if you follow these best practices, you’ll be well on your way to organisational happiness.

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