A board can go bad for a number of different reasons whether it’s apathy, disengagement or infighting, when you put people together in a room all sorts of things can happen. But we’ve found that there are 4 things that you absolutely need to prevent board disfunction and create a board that is dedicated to making your organization the best it can be.
They should ask questions
If your board has stopped asking questions, that typically doesn’t mean that you’re doing a good job. That means that they’re disengaged. The board is there to hold the organization accountable to its charter and they should always have questions about how you’re allocating your resources and how you’re pursuing the stated mission.
If you find that your board has stopped asking questions, start pointing them to the questions they should ask. Talk to them about your concerns and ask for advice. Once they give it they’ll feel more connected to the process and will most likely start following up on the initiatives they contributed to.
They should participate
Does your board show up to your events? When you have a fundraiser are they there to support it? An absentee board is a dangerous board. If they aren’t committed to supporting your organization through attending your events throughout the year you should start asking yourself if they’re in it for the right reasons. Maybe they’re having a busy year or maybe they’re on the board to pad out their resume.
If you see that a board member has stopped participating, reach out to them individually and see what’s going on. If you get pushback reach out to other board members who are engaged for support. The board’s main function is to make sure that you are on the right path. They can’t do that if they don’t see how effective you’re being on the ground level.
They should care
Does your board give to your organization? Do they tell others about what you’re doing? If they do neither of these things then ask yourself why. Are they embarrassed to be supporting you? Do they just not care? Or is what you’re driving to not compelling enough to have people talk about it? Your board should be your biggest fan. If you aren’t helping them tell your story you need to find ways to help them tell your story.
They should be connected
Does your board know the names of people in your organization outside of your leadership team? Do they regularly communicate with you to check in? A good board wants to know what’s happening because they want to see you succeed. That means communication and an awareness of what’s going on. Make sure you’re putting people in their path that will help them understand what your employees do on a regular basis to make sure your organization thrives.
These steps are a good indicator of health but by no means are they the limit. Have you found other warning signs of a disengaged board? Post them in the comments below! We would love to hear them.