Thursday, June 20, 2013

Many Association Board Members Are Like Goldilocks

If Goldilocks observed your board meetings, what would she find?

  • Some associations have directors who talk/contribute too much.
  • Some have directors who don’t talk/contribute at all.
  • Some have directors who are just right.

Over the last 30 years, I’ve experienced all kinds. And, I’ve learned from board chairs who know how to “manage” a board meeting and others who have no clue. In those cases, I watch as directors get frustrated with the board meeting process.

As a CEO, our challenge is to help our volunteer leaders facilitate board meetings that get the most from the meeting.


Because board time is a non-renewable resource. 

Don’t want to waste it.

So, how do you help your leader get more from the silents and less from the talkers?

  1. The Chair can/should ensure that each person is contributing. She can do this by pointedly asking feedback from all ... by monitoring who has not contributed and ask them to ... by “holding off” the talkers by saying “John, I want to hear from Fred next; I’ll come back to you later.”
  2. The problem is that the “silents” are either shy or not willing to talk in big groups. So, the chair needs to “nurture” them to “pull out” their thoughts.
I’ve frequently used the “list three” technique as a tool to help engage everyone ... even those who rarely speak during board meetings.

The process is fairly simple:
  1. State the question/issue/problem so everyone understands.
  2. Ask each person to “list three possible solutions/ideas” about the question/problem. (During this time, there should be no talking as each board member should be working on his/her own.)
  3. Now, it’s time to share. Go around the room, asking each board member to give one (only one) of their answers. Post these on a flip chart. Then, go to the next person until each board member has given at least one answer.
  4. Now, repeat the process, asking each member to give one of their other answers. 
  5. Repeat this until each director has given all of their ideas/answers.
Now, everyone has contributed. No one should have “dominated” (assuming you went one idea per director at a time).

The next step is to edit, purge, consolidate ideas/answers/solutions.

Then, if you want, you can ask directors to vote on the top three ideas.

The key is to get everyone to contribute. As the association CEO, it is your job to coach your volunteer leaders on how to run a meeting that gets maximum contribution from everyone.

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