Do you have any of these individuals on your board of directors?
- Mr. Domination who kidnaps every discussion and makes it about him.
- Mrs. Missing who misses many meetings and is unprepared when she attends.
- Dr. Minutia who focuses only on the small details and tries to micromanage you and your staff.
- Ms. Do-nothing who contributes little or nothing to board discussions or activities.
- Mr. Dinosaur who has been on your board for a long time and focuses only on the past.
It is beneficial to have different points of view on a board. One of the board's main functions if to provide diversity of thought and perspectives. However, the presence of board members with overly large egos, confrontational personalities, over involvement or lack of involvement can negatively impede a board’s ability to complete its tasks.
If you find yourself nodding your head in agreement, what can or should you do about it?
The most effective thing you can do is avoid having a poor board member in the first place. Have a written job description for your board members, including a code of conduct, job responsibilities and expectations. Review it with a prospective board member before the individual joins the board. Talk about the role of the board as a whole and the importance of everyone contributing to the group process.
If that troublesome board member is already on your board, then it is time to attempt to understand the reasons behind the board member’s behavior. The chairperson of the board should initiate a conversation with the board member. The executive director should not be expected to assume this task. Talking with the board member, sharing concerns regarding board behavior, listening to her/his thoughts, and providing one-on-one respectful feedback can go a long way to bring about the desired change in behavior.
If the troublesome behavior continues, and thus is counterproductive to the work of the board, the board chairperson, in consultation with the other officers of the board, has four options to consider:
- Not reappointing the board member at the end of her/his term of service
- Asking the board member to resign from the board
- Removing the board member from the board, if the organization’s bylaws provide for this action
- Isolate and contain the board member, if the bylaws do not allow for removal.
Whatever action is taken, remember that the board member is still a member of the community in which your organization resides. If handled with tact and respect, your hope is the board member will continue to be supportive of your organization regardless of the outcome of his/her tenure on your board.
So, have you had to deal with a troublesome board member? How did YOU handle it??