Part 1 – The Problem Board Member Series

It’s inevitable. At some point there will be someone on your board of directors who is a problem. Board members don’t join a board intending to be a problem and yet board member conduct issues crop up. How do you handle a board member who makes it harder for the board to succeed in governing the nonprofit?

problem board member conduct

Head Off Problems Before They Start

Prevention is the first line of defense against having a problem board member. Have a clear board expectation agreement that outlines not only the expectations on attendance and giving to the organization, but also outlines some simple expectations of behavior. Include general guidelines about treating each other with respect and about supporting a decision once a measure has been voted on and approved. Put standards like these in the board expectations agreement that board members sign each year. Establishing these meeting board rules and enforcing them goes a long way toward building trust and rapport among your board members.

Start with Ground Rules for Board Member Conduct

Ground rules are a great idea for any group that meets regularly. Discuss how you want to conduct your meetings. With ground rules in place, it’s much easier to hold everyone accountable for following the simple rules. You can include your list of ground rules in the Documents section of Boardable and post the ground rules at every meeting. Here are some suggestions that can help ward off the troublesome board member:

  • Start and end on time
  • Give other speakers a turn
  • Respectful listening
  • No side conversations
  • Soft on people, hard on ideas
  • No phones during the meeting

Watch for future blogs that will discuss how to handle some of the most common problem board members. We’ll have suggestions that will help you manage your meetings more effectively.

Here are some of the problem members we will discuss:

  • The Storyteller
  • The Dominator
  • The Interrupter
  • The Know-It-All
  • The Naysayer
  • The Topic Jumper
  • The Whisperer

Do you have any of these problem board members in your organization? Don’t worry, we will go through each of them, and tell you how to improve board member conduct. Certain personalities are prone to causing a little difficulty in board meetings, but it isn’t anything you can’t overcome with some careful thought, compassion, and good advice.

RELATED: How to Move Your Board from “I” to “We” Statements

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