Is your board member communication strong? Or do directors just show up for a meeting, read the last meeting’s minutes, and disappear entirely? It is frustrating when board members don’t communicate. It’s hard to get anything done. Information needs to be continually repeated. Meetings often don’t feel worthwhile. If you’re a board administrator tasked with improving communication, we’ve got help.
With the support of the rest of the board, create a communication strategy. This might be as simple as creating a list of preferred contact types for each member, or as complex as implementing an entire communication hub. What’s most important is that all board members know how to communicate with each other. They need to have direct access to all other board members. A directory of board member contact information should be distributed to everyone, with permission. With this kind of connectivity, not only can you facilitate more productivity between meetings, you build rapport.
As you arrange minutes and notes, make it expressly clear which board members have volunteered to work together and who needs to communicate with each other. Board members are busy, and often they will need to refer back to their notes to remember what they’re working on and with whom. If there are any changes, make sure they’re carefully documented. The more detailed your notes are the better. However, still remember your minutes should be as concise as possible.
When communication issues occur, such as facts being mistaken or misspoken, make sure to get to the heart of the matter. Otherwise, resentment could build among board members. Figure out what happened without any blam. Then, create strategies for avoiding these issues in the future. Over time, this will lead to healthier communication.
Whether you’re sitting in on committee meetings or you sit on the main board, administrators have special responsibilities. Creating the right agenda is crucial to keeping things on track. Be sure to allow for a “parking lot” of ideas that are brought up during the meeting but don’t fit in the agenda. Not only will everyone still feel heard, but there will be a record of good ideas to discuss later.
Every person has different communication styles. When board members aren’t able to work effectively together, it’s often because they aren’t communicating in the way they should. They may not have communication styles that mesh, or may not know each other well enough. As an administrator, you are able to learn each board member’s communication styles, and put that knowledge to good use. Some older board members might appreciate phone calls for important information. Younger professionals may never answer a phone call EVER! Find out when a text message, an email, or other form of communication is best.
Online tools are a great way to facilitate communication between meetings. There are lots of great task tracking tools online, such as Trello or Asana. If you create an online dashboard showing progress toward key goals, board members will see their progress in real time, and feel motivated to succeed.
As a board administrator, there’s not much you can do if your board members are constantly distracted and refuse to talk. But if your board members are willing to listen, you can improve their communication AND effectiveness.
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