Saturday, October 31, 2020

7 Reasons You Must EXIT an Under-Performing Board Member

There are at least seven reasons why a board must remove an under-performing board member. Is it time to address the elephant in the room?

#1. Missed Meetings. If your under-performing board member misses meetings and doesn’t apologize or explain her absences—then the board chair should call her (not email). While still thinking the best of her—and that that you can inspire her to improve her performance—be prepared for a resignation.
   • Read: “Address Absentee Board Member Syndrome”

#2. Core Values Misalignment. Your ministry’s core values are prominently displayed on the boardroom wall, but one board member continues to push the board down inappropriate paths that are hardly God-honoring. “This works in business,” he blusters. “It will work here.”
   • Read: “Cut the Cord! Invite Board Members to Exit When They Don’t Live Your Values”

#3. Hyper-Focus on the Volunteer Hat. Two years ago, she was the ministry’s “Volunteer of the Year.” The Governance Committee nominated her for board service, but failed to explain the three hats of the board—and most importantly the Governance Hat. With inadequate board member orientation, she continues to drag the board down into volunteer operations. (News Alert! Many volunteers are happiest being volunteers, not board members!)
   • Read: “If You Need a Volunteer, Recruit a Volunteer”
   • And also read: “If You Need a Board Member, Recruit a Board Member”

#4. Same Song/Second Verse (a little bit louder, and a little bit worse). Your ministry’s mission and vision clearly point you in the direction of “Plan A.” And on your knees at your recent board retreat, the board sensed God’s leading and you reaffirmed that direction in the Rolling 3-Year Strategic Plan. Yet, one board member continues to lobby for his “Plan B.” That’s all he talks about—and it’s not only annoying, it’s disruptive. He has no filters.
   • Read: “Sidetrack Harebrained Ideas”

#5. The Bully in the Boardroom. Whew! Memo to self: Next time, check a board nominee’s references (work and church) before you bring him onto the board. Once the bully is in your boardroom, it will be very challenging to extract him from the board—but you must.
   • Read: “The Bully in the Boardroom”

#6. Time and Talent, But No Treasure. Some board members—often due to inadequate cultivation, recruitment, and orientation—never become “generous givers” to the organization. When you recruit with your board-approved “Board Member Annual Affirmation Statement,” you can inspire board members to meet this standard:

“I affirm that during my three-year term on the board I will arrange my giving priorities so that I am able to be a generous giver to XYZ Ministries, recognizing that major donors, foundations and other donors have the expectation that the XYZ Ministries Board of Directors will be part of the ‘most highly committed’ group of donors.” 

    Review Tool #21 in ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance for the definition of generous giving. “Generous giving” does not mean that board members must be wealthy.

#7. The Passion Has Left the Building. Some board members are comfortable with longer board terms (maybe a year off after two three-year terms, and then repeat)—while others thrive best with a change of scenery. When a board member’s passion to serve has left the building, it’s time to create an exit plan—even if it’s mid-term. As Dr. Henry Cloud notes, “Wise people know when to quit.”
   • Read: “Seven Times When a Board Member Should Bid Adieu”

It’s not if, but when your board chair or Governance Committee will need to have a frank one-on-one conversation with an under-performing board member. Don’t put it off. Pray, discern, seek counsel from other board members—and then have the conversation (if possible, in person). Board service is for a season—but it is not forever!

BOARD DISCUSSION: What did our annual online board member self-assessment reveal about the health of our board? Have we talked openly—and with God-honoring graciousness—about the steps we would take should a board member need to exit?

THINK ABOUT: Good governance is not just about doing work better; it’s about ensuring your organization does better work.” (Bill Ryan speaking on “Governance as Leadership: Key Concepts”) 

MORE RESOURCES: The click-on index to 40 guest bloggers (and their 40 blogs) is posted at the More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom BlogClick here to read the 40 color commentaries, plus the 40 lessons from the book.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Break the Script!

“How do you refresh a meeting that’s grown rote?”
In their book, The Power of Moments, Chip Heath and Dan Heath answer their own question, “Break the script.”

When I was in seminary, my pastor continually looked for ways to “break the script” on Sunday mornings—not to showcase his creativity—but to refresh our focus on our role in God’s work.

Example: For his pastoral prayer, he would exit the pulpit and walk the three steps down to the congregation’s level—and then read the headlines from the Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune. After each headline, he would pray for the politician, or the grieving family, or those suffering from a natural disaster in a far-off nation. Fast-forward—I still strive to read newspapers with that holy filter.

In my journey through boardrooms over the years, I’ve often wondered why board chairs and CEOs don’t “break the script” more often. As Dan Busby and I noted in More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom:

“Let’s confess. Our board meetings have gotten sloppy when:
Preparation is rote.
Execution is rote.
Celebration is rote.
Follow-through is random.”

(Click here to read Lesson 15, “Be Intentional About Your First 30 Minutes.”)

But I do see encouraging signs—especially in this COVID-19 era. (How are you describing this period: era, season, year, or decade? Oh, my.)

A ministry in the Northwest conducted a “Single Topic Zoom Call” to discuss and discern God’s direction about a ministry acquisition. The four-hour session was devoted exclusively to one topic only. Brilliant!

Another board (pre-COVID) added a special meeting, with dinner in a member’s home, to seek God’s will about interim leadership. There were not 17 agenda items—just one. Every board member weighed in. There was plenty of time for possibilities and prayer.

David Curry, in “Think and Pray Outside the Box—and the County,” (Lesson 29 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom), notes: “The tyranny of the day-to-day—budgets, meetings, and yearly events to sustain life and keep the lights on—can overwhelm most leaders and sap our energy, leaving little that could be used to power a big, God-sized vision.” Curry once scheduled a board meeting at an architect’s office—so the creativity and the environment would inspire the board to “break the script.”

I was recently reminded of this “break the script” hole-in-the-roof healing in Luke 5 in The Message:

“Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. When they couldn’t find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. Impressed by their bold belief, he said, ‘Friend, I forgive your sins.’”

As you’ll recall, that set “the religion scholars and Pharisees buzzing.” There were two stunning results: the healing and the crowd’s response! Jesus “spoke directly to the paraplegic: ‘Get up. Take your bedroll and go home.’ Without a moment’s hesitation, he did it—got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way. The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, ‘We’ve never seen anything like that!’”

Imagine when your board members—wanting to refresh the focus on their role in God’s work—hear people giving glory to God and saying, “We’ve never seen anything like that!”

BOARD DISCUSSION: How could we “break the script” for greater board effectiveness?

THINK ABOUT: “The average board member doesn’t read a book a year. That is why he or she is an average board member!” (Adapted from Books Are Tremendous, by Charlie “Tremendous” Jones)

MORE RESOURCES: The click-on index to 40 guest bloggers (and their 40 blogs) was posted this week at the More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog. Click here to read the 40 color commentaries, plus the 40 lessons from the book.