Working with the Board of Directors: 10 important areas of focus to insure optimum relations with, and service to, your Board
1. How does one solve the problem of a conflict between one board member with the ceo based on lobbying by a staff member wanting to grow in the society, but the ceo does not agree?
A: I am interpreting this question to mean that a member of the staff team and a member of the board together have a different vision for the society’s future than does the CEO. If this is the case, the key to a successful resolution will be open communication and straight talk. Each party should let the others know where they stand, without manipulation or distortion and give honest explanation for their point of view. In the end, the CEO, hopefully working with the Chief Elected Officer, will be responsible and accountable for making the final decision.
2. What is the title of this Steven Covey book you mentioned during the event?
A: “The Speed of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey. http://www.speedoftrust.com
3. On the topic of troublesome or difficult board members, should the staff or chief staff officer be the “cops”? Who is the right person to approach or confront a troublesome board member?
A: Without question the Chief Staff Officer should take the lead in resolving the issue and finding the solution but not necessarily be the lead in approaching or confronting. The Chief Elected Officer would typically be the person to take the issue to the troublesome board member. And he/she may need some coaching or handholding from the CSO. However, peers will react much differently and be far more receptive when confronted by fellow board members (peers) than by the staff.
4. On the topic of Board’s role versus their committees, as a committee liaison to several association committees, what do I do if my committees don’t not have a written charge from the Board and the committee chair is not really sure what is expected of them by the board?
A: The Chief Staff Officer, working closely with the Chief Elected Officer will want to make sure each of the nonprofit’s committees and task forces have a specific charge. This will ensure everyone understands the desired deliverables. A committee’s charge would normally come from the organization’s strategic plan. If there is no plan, then the charge would come from the current budget. If the organization’s most senior officers can’t find a charge, then that committee or task force should not exist.
5. On the topic of board meeting minutes, should action items (things the board wants staff to work on) be a part of the official minutes?
A. No. Minutes are a record of the actions taken (or not taken) and the decisions or policies made. They should not contain action items. Instead, an action item list should be a separate document that can be appended to the minutes or stand alone to record staff or volunteer “to do” items.