At the end of last year, I started to see a growing trend with my clients: 3-hour long Board meetings. These meetings were frustrating, tedious and an unfair use of our Board members’ time — not to mention, completely boring.
Does your Board struggle with staying on task, executing effective discussions and moving quickly through an agenda?
If so, these next few blogs are dedicated to you. After seeing my clients struggle with effectively operating their Board meetings, I’ve developed some ways to trouble shoot key Board problems. Addressing these issues will hopefully lead to more productive Board meetings and a greater engagement by your Board members in your organization.
Ask yourself: Are the right people on the Board?
- Is your Board Chair a strong leader who commands the respect of the other Board members?
- Does the Board Chair lead by example?
- Is the Board Chair committed to the organization and made it his/her main priority for his/her term?
- Do you have the right Board members “on board”?
- Are your Board members demographics reflective of the community you are serving?
- Do you have a financial professional and a lawyer on your Board?
- Are your Board members connecting the organization to new people in the community?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it might be time to reconfigure your Board. The first step to creating a successful Board is putting the right people in the right place. Many times, you may have the “right” people on Board, but in the wrong positions. A simple change of leadership by installing a different Board member as the Chair will completely change the dynamics of the Board and how effectively your Board meetings are operated.
The right Board Chair is deeply committed to the organization and fulfilling his/her role for the entire term. This Board Chair is available to the Board and the staff members. The Board Chair is a strong leader who will not tolerate side conversations or topics being beaten to death in order to keep Board meetings running smoothly and on time.
You may also need more of the “right” people on your Board. This is an opportunity for you to identify and recruit new Board members. The first step in this process is to understand what skills, talents and demographics you currently have on your Board. I’ve attached a Board Member Assessment Worksheet. It allows you to record the characteristics of your current Board. It will also show you where you may be missing some key skills, talents or demographics that are needed on your Board.
Go ahead and fill out the worksheet. In the next blog, I will talk about how to find and recruit these Board members with the skills, talents and demographics that your Board needs. Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to cover how to identify, recruit and orient your Board. Once you have the right Board members in the right place, we will discuss ways to retain and maintain these valuable resources.
**Recently, Renee Herrell finished a 5-month process of identifying, recruiting and orienting a new Board for a client. In January, she shared her experience at the Center for Nonprofit Success’ “Building a Strong and Healthy Board of Directors” in Denver, CO. On Wednesday, March 9, she will be speaking about it again with Center for Nonprofit Success in Seattle, WA: http://www.cfnps.org/SeatLS1.aspx.**