Dealing With Board Directors

Prevention is the best way to deal with difficult board members. Be sure that your agency’s board member goals are clear, and that they are able to align their vision with the organization. This reduces the number of instances in which a board member’s advice can be counterproductive. If there is a problem take action immediately and don’t overlook bad behavior. Hesitating will only make it worse.

It begins with direct intervention – a one-on-one discussion with the person who is causing the problem. You must be calm and professional but also direct and express your concerns clearly. In the ideal situation, the person will agree with you and alter their behavior, but if that doesn’t work try engaging in a group discussion with the chair, or anyone who the board member holds in high esteem. You may want to review the values statement of your organization or other documents that govern the organization for words that could serve as a guideline for acceptable behavior, including treating people with respect.

Another alternative is to ask the person to quit the board (ideally by a voluntary decision, but if necessary you can do it through a vote in confidence). This will require careful preparation and planning prior the meeting or conversation. Prepare a detailed answer to the most important questions you want to discuss. Be assertive, yet maintain an appropriate tone of voice.

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