Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Michael Gordon-Lennox, chairman, St Dunstan's

I joined the board of trustees at St Dunstan's in 1994 and became chairman in 1998. One of my first jobs was to find a new chief executive.

I hit the jackpot with a man we found through a recruitment consultant - he and I agreed that achieving the Investors in People standard was one of the highest priorities for the organisation. We achieved it after a year and the whole picture of staff relationships changed. Everyone knew what everyone in other departments was doing, training was set up and there was regular internal communication.

Breaking down the barriers between different departments is one of the most important parts of the Investors in People system. A representative from each department sits on a committee and they discuss what is happening in every area of the organisation. It has changed the way we work beyond all recognition.

I would encourage other charities to undergo a similar process, but you must pick the system to suit you. Investors in People was terrific for us because it helped tune the charity and mould St Dunstan's into an organisation that really works together and communicates well.

There are various kinds of trustee. There are some who are incredibly enthusiastic about their causes and are really in the driving seat, charting the charity's course. St Dunstan's is slightly different. It is like a hospital, rehabilitation centre, training centre, nursing care centre, holiday home and welfare organisation thrown into one - and because of this complex nature, it is not the job of the trustees to come along with a new agenda and try to alter it radically.

Our trustees are intensely interested and play a large part in what we do, but they're very much oiling the charity's wheels. Most importantly, we have strong financial advisers on the board to help meet any future problems.

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