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Dealing With Board Directors

Preventive measures are the best way to handle difficult board members. Be sure that your agency’s objectives for board members are clear, and that they are able to integrate their vision with the organization. This can reduce the number of instances in which a board member’s suggestions are counterproductive. If there is a problem be quick to address it and don’t ignore bad behavior. Hesitating will only make it worse.

Direct intervention is the initial step – a one-on-one meeting with the person who is creating trouble. It is important to be professional and calm, but clear in your discussion and clearly state your concerns. Ideally the person will agree with you and alter their behavior, however if that doesn’t work try making an intervention in the group with the chair, or anyone else that the board member holds in high esteem. It may be beneficial to go through the Values statement of your organization and/or other documents that govern the organization for words that could be used as a definition of acceptable behavior, including treating people with respect.

Another alternative is to request someone to leave the board (ideally, voluntarily however, if needed it can be done through a vote of confidence). This requires careful preparation and planning prior the meeting or conversation. For instance, ensure that you know the key issues you’d like to discuss and prepare a detailed response prepared. Be assertive, but keep a polite tone.


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