Dealing With Board Directors

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Prevention is the best method to deal with difficult board members. Be sure that your agency’s board member goals are clear, and that they can combine their vision with the organization. This will minimize the amount of instances when an individual’s advice to a board member is not beneficial. If a problem does arise be proactive and don’t ignore poor behavior. Hesitating only makes it worse.

Direct intervention is the first step, which is a one-on-1 meeting with the person making trouble. It is important to be calm and professional, yet clear in your discussion and clearly state your concerns. It is ideal that the person agrees with you and alter their behavior, however in the event that this doesn’t work, try stepping up to group intervention with the chair, or anyone who the board member is highly respected by. It may be beneficial to go through the values statement of your organization or other governing documents for words that could serve as a guideline for acceptable behavior, such as treating people with respect.

Another alternative is to ask someone to leave the board (ideally in a voluntary manner however, if needed by a vote of confidence). This will require careful planning and preparation prior to the meeting or conversation. Prepare a comprehensive response to the principal issues you wish to discuss. Be assertive, but maintain the appropriate tone.

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