All nonprofit organizations need a board as state law dictates but it’s not a bad idea for companies to have a board of directors as well. Boards can be more than helpful in helping raise money and generate revenue. A board represents the stakeholders of the organization/firm. But if your board starts to get unmotivated, it will become ineffective.
Look for the signs that your board is bored. “You can tell if your board is bored when they stop asking questions. When a board is engaged, they are organically driven to ask a lot of questions about the state of the business. If your board meetings are delayed frequently or are frequently cut short, you have a bored board,” says Christopher Murray, marketing director at HiringSolved, who often meets with board members.
You need to take steps to turn things around when your board has become ineffective. “You can tell when a board is bored by how they effectively communicate with each other. When members are no longer interested in the goals of the organization, they begin to deal more with personal and self-involved goals,” says communications expert L. Michelle Price-Johnson. “This usually spirals into arguments and politically induced decision-making which becomes very dangerous to the organization.”
But you can get your board back on track and reinvigorated. “Always have a clear and focused plan that the organization needs to reach. I would also suggest that all goals have dates. In getting a team to work collaboratively, it is important to have a specific date, any specific goal, set that the team is aiming for,” says Price-Johnson. “Make sure that the board understands how each project works as part of the whole for the organization. Showing the importance of each task to the whole will give members a clear understanding of why they need to do the things they need to do, and of their importance. Repeat these three things at every meeting to keep members focused.”
Make sure you have the right kind of board. “There are two kinds of boards: one that is based on expertise and is usually comprised of stakeholders. These boards are usually highly effective because their bottom line is profitability or success in the undertaking to which they are in a committed. Most times, these members are specifically voted onto the board or asked to be on the board because of their relevance and expertise in the field. The motivator for this type of board is usually profitability or success,” explains Price-Johnson.
The other type of board is centered around advice more than finance. “The second kind of board is more of an advisory board and it is made up of interested people from the community. This kind of board is, most often, a bit more difficult to work with because their goals may not be in line with the organization’s goals,” Price-Johnson points out. “When a board member is not a shareholder or directly impacted by the profitability or success of the board, their decisions may become more self-involved. In this scenario, it is very important to understand the power or emotional payoff needed by that board member. The leader must understand what would inspire this type of member to work collaboratively to accomplish strategic, organizational goals,” she adds.
There are other ways to stimulate your board. Business coach Jason Dukes, founder of Captain’s Chair Coaching, suggests, “Create a vision for the board; make sure the board members are aligned to the vision of the role of the board; and maintain a relationship with the board. Don’t just contact them when it’s time to have a meeting or when you need something.”
So how often should you meet with your board? “Community boards should meet quarterly or bi-monthly and shareholder boards should meet based upon the schedule of profitability. Many boards meet quarterly to manage the success of the organization, while others also meet bi-monthly,” says Price-Johnson. But do not schedule too many meetings. “It is important to note that having too frequent meetings can cause fatigue in members. This can increase the chances of members becoming bored and can limit their success metrics for progress being made towards organizational goals. Frequency does not equal efficiency,” notes Price-Johnson.
When it comes time to change board members, don’t hesitate to bring in fresh faces–and ideas. “If you have a defined purpose for the board, changing board members will happen organically. When board members are no longer aligned to the purpose of the board or don’t want to be on the board any longer, then it’s time for a change,” says Dukes.
So keep on top of your board; engage them and encourage them. You’ll see results.