Create A Positive Board Experience

My research has shown a negative board experience is a key influencer to board members not performing as expected. Furthermore, a less than positive experience can lead to good, actively engaged board members to become disengaged.

Here are four actions from Stop The Nonprofit Board Blame Game that BOARD MEMBERS have shared with me will contribute to a positive board experience; AND in turn, will lead to a positive, productive, and fully engaged board.

Communicate effectively

Poor communication is a top cause for board members not meeting expectations.

When board members share they sometimes feel like mushrooms in a grow house, kept in the dark and covered with manure, that’s a problem.

The answer to better communication is not do more. The answer is to  communicate effectively.

If you don’t feel like you are communicating successfully, evaluate your communication style, how messages are delivered, and timing. You should also ask board members about their preferences for how they want to receive information.

The most important part of communication is listening. So make sure you are utilizing good active listening techniques to better understand each board member’s perspective. Showing you are listening, demonstrates the board member’s ideas and opinions are valued.

Make meetings matter

Board meetings are an integral part of the board member experience. Are your meetings contributing to board members’ positive feelings about their involvement or are they causing board members to lose their enthusiasm?

Ask yourself these questions to evaluate your meeting structure.

Do board members consider meetings not-to-be-missed activities?

Are your meetings organized for efficiency and a clear purpose?

Do they encourage stimulating conversation? Allow challenge questions? Do board members feel like by attending, they will be contributing to making the organization better?

Do board members feel meetings are a safe place for actively sharing opinions?

Is there time for social interaction? Why is that important?

Volunteers want to know they are making a difference and the time they are investing is not being wasted. Make your meetings matter so board members will motivated to attend and be actively engaged.

Show appreciation

Anyone working with volunteers knows the importance of showing appreciation. Remember, your board members are volunteers too and it’s essential to demonstrate they are appreciated.

Acknowledgement of a board member’s contributions of time, dedicated service, and perhaps financial support; shows they are valued and will create positive thoughts about their board experience.

Communicating gratitude can be simple.

Thank you text messages or emails, mentions in a meeting, newsletter, or in a social media post take little time and will generate big results.

Being intentional about showing appreciation also helps model the behavior you want from all of your other board members.

What are other ways you can show appreciation?

This word of caution, if your board members are not feeling appreciated they may also feel like they’re being taken for granted and are on their way to becoming disengaged.

Make it fun

Incorporating fun into an experience certainly helps make it positive.

Consider including light hearted moments in a board meeting or structured

activities such as social gatherings, team building activities, and group outings.

Brainstorm with staff and board leaders for creative ideas that will help add an element of fun for your board members.

Take action on these four priorities and you will create a positive board experience that will lead to a positive, productive, and fully engaged board.  

How does your organization make sure your board members have a positive experience?

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