How Can A Board Be Kept Involved When It Is Only Making Policy Decisions?
By Eugene Fram
The name of the game for the CEO is to communicate the important information to board members and to keep them abreast of significant operational developments. This involves:
- Including the information in the president’s report at each board meeting and at appropriate committee meetings. (This may involve duplication for some board members.)
- Having staff make short presentations. This requires the CEO to review the presentations well in advance. Staff personnel often so dedicated to their specific work that they can overload the presentations with superfluous examples and details.
- Using another technique – the consent agenda. With consent agenda, routine and previously agreed upon items are organized together in the pre-meeting agenda, and then, hopefully, approved as a group.
- Meeting with individual board members informally, as well as formally. Have an assistant keep a log of informal contacts, and if there hasn’t been an informal contact with each board member quarterly, have the assistant schedule a breakfast or lunch meeting to assess personal views. At these meetings, provide an update, discuss current challenges, and even cover the more “entrepreneurial or even wild ideas” that my have future relevance for board policy decisions. (Some of these meeting can happen quite informally before or after a committee or monthly board meeting. Some may even occur at a golf match or other appropriate social events.)
- Having staff members support board committees when new policy decisions are being investigated.
- NOTE: Board members will stay interested and involved in their nonprofit organizations if they are convinced their activities have a purpose and serve the organization. Being pertinent and time-limited is especially applicable for younger individuals building a career not only because they often lead busy lives but also because this age group is now used to immediate gratification and to projects that last not longer than the equivalent of a semester
Source: Policy vs. Paper Clips, Third Edition, 2011, p.178.
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