Ten (Okay, 11) Ways Not to Treat Board Members

Executive Directors have the role of keeping their major stakeholders engaged and growing in institutional spirit. Sometimes, though, we wonder about spending the time to cultivate Board members when there is so much else to do. After all, we reason, they read the reports, come to the meetings, should know what is going on, and already know how the staff feels about x, y and z.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Executive Directors still need to work, and work hard, to engage the Board as a body and to engage the individual interests and needs of members. Here are ten ways to insure that individuals on your Board slowly become disinterested and/or frustrated. No doubt we can all add to this list:

  1. Treat all Board members the same, forgetting to grow relationships individually with each Board member.
  2. Forget that each Board member wants to feel valued and most, if not all, want to do something that helps the organization. Give them little to do.
  3. Expect them to understand your financial reports, sending them a day before the Board meeting.
  4. Relate to your Board members at Board meetings only. Hope that in speaking to them as a body, you have covered your bases.
  5. Do e-mail blasts to the Board as a body and assume that is all the cultivation or information they need.
  6. Forget to pick up the phone in between Board meetings, keeping the right person in the right loop.
  7. Fail to find out how Board members feel about current project large and small. Ignore their frustrations. Ignorance is bliss.
  8. Push through your own agenda while telling them they are valuable. Most can see through this shenanigan, and frankly, disrespect.
  9. Encourage little discussion or debate at meetings. (this goes with number 8)
  10. Set up rubber stamp board meetings through use of your Board President.
  11. Minimize the work of individual members, casting praise on staff instead.

If you have more questions about Board relations or if you have any other non-profit administrative needs, please call us at (316) 650-8503 and we’ll be happy to help you evaluate your options.

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Monday, November 18th, 2013 museums, nonprofits

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