Engaged, active board members can be your unit’s greatest allies. It’s important to help each individual identify ways to use his/her talents to benefit the organization, via committee/task force participation, leadership positions and special projects. Offer each board member an opportunity to expand participation in ways that are mutually beneficial to the individual and the organization.
Newer boards – New boards have no room for inactive members. Involve each member in some important aspect of the groundwork, especially mission development, strategic planning and structure building (e.g., by-laws and board policies). Assign each member to an active committee charged with some core aspect of your mission; and provide (via the board) measurable goals, with deadlines. Build a culture of accountability from the beginning – the board must take responsibility for achieving group and individual goals.
Veteran boards – As new members are recruited to the board, work with them to identify individual interests and talents. Then assign them to an active committee that will utilize those talents immediately. Ask the committee chairperson to contact the new member to discuss the group’s activities and define ways to participate immediately. Verify that the board mentor/mentee relationship is meeting the new board member’s orientation needs; make adjustments, if necessary.
Some questions to guide discussion:
• How do we bring new members into our work and our organizational culture?
• What are our “bottom line” expectations for our board members?
• What does a “good” board member do?
• How can we enhance our early involvement processes for new members?