Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lessons from Being a Board Member

I said I was going to comment on my experience as a Board member. After 16 years of working with Boards as an association staff person, I'm now serving on a Board myself, and learning lot about the color of the grass on the other side of the fence. Here are some quick things to remember the next time you're frustrated with a Board member.

1. Everyone's schedule is already full. Volunteering for a Board means adding something to an already full plate, which means an engaged Board member is either doing association work outside of work hours and neglecting their personal pursuits or during work hours and neglecting their professional pursuits. You must make volunteer activities relevant to a Board member's personal or professional pursuits so they don't have to make these painful choices.

2. Let’s talk strategy. Don’t waste the Board's time on operations. Staff does operations and Board does strategy. I get it. That Board member who doesn't speak up might be frustrated with the tactical level of the conversation and wondering what he got himself into.

3. Committee chairs do the most work. Thank them. Often.

4. Numbers get confusing. Even smart people who reviewed the agenda materials before the meeting get confused when line items in a budget start getting tossed around. Slow down. I'm not questioning your competency by asking questions.

5. Socializing is important. I've joined a team and that is being asked to perform before all the players have been properly introduced. Hearing everyone's name and the organizations they work for is not enough. Why are they here? What do they want to accomplish? Let's spend some time talking about that first.


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