Feel Like Firing Board Members?

Fri, Jul 03, 2015 at 11:35AM

fire board member

Reading Firing Lousy Board Members by Simone Joyaux is a must for anyone working with volunteer board members.

Nonprofit and association leaders experiencing frustration with board member performance will especially benefit from her approach to those individuals who need to be “thanked and released.”

I met Simone at Planet Philanthropy 2015, and she very graciously shared her reasons for writing this compelling book.

“The health of the organization matters most, so firing bad performers is both acceptable and necessary.”

For individuals contemplating such an extreme action, it sounds like she’s giving permission to proceed, right?

However, before handing out pink slips at your next board meeting, she cautions, there are conditions that should be met first.

These conditions are about developing a process so an actual firing is the ultimate last resort.

Despite its title, the book initially focuses on preventing the need for firing by helping keep performance issues from arising.

Simone characterizes Firing Lousy Board Members as a manual, and the guidance it provides also helps resolve problems so board members worth keeping can be saved.

Termination is positioned as the appropriate alternative only if all else fails.

A sampling of the key points critical to her process includes:

  • Acknowledge that there is shared responsibility for board member performance.
  • Examine organizational practices that may be contributing to unsatisfactory performance.
  • Don’t take challenges such as someone’s community status or being a significant donor as an excuse for not addressing performance issues.
  • Establish a board composition process and reinforce it as a formalized policy.

Simone is not an advocate of wholesale dismissal of board members. She does, however, believe boards should function as intended.

If poor individual performance is the reason that’s not the case, she stresses, “The mission is not being served by allowing non-performers to stay,”

Applying her recommended action steps gives the person responsible for dealing with the possibility of a board member dismissal the opportunity to do so in an appropriate and professional manner.

Simone Joyaux is dedicated to fixing status quo situations that perpetuate failed practices.

My next article will share more from my visit with Simone and her thoughts on performance improvement measures needed for nonprofit boards and board members.


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