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Board DevelopmentNonprofit Boards

Board Bad Habits

By September 28, 2023No Comments

Unless you are very careful, have you ever noticed how easy it can be to pick up a bad habit? The bad habits seem to be a whole lot easier to integrate into our lives than the good habits.

For instance, maybe you eat healthy on a regular basis and one day decide to treat yourself to a dish of ice cream. Then, the next day you remember there is still some of that delicious ice cream in the freezer and decide to have another dish. Soon, you find yourself having ice cream every day and a bad habit has been born. Especially since the ice cream is in the freezer and you may as well finish it off (no sense in leaving it to go bad).  

Since boards are made up of people, it is easy for them to fall into bad habits unless special efforts are made to keep bad habits out of the group. Be aware of the following three bad habits of boards; awareness will help the board avoid falling into the “bad habit trap.”

Bad Habit #1 – One of the biggest bad habits of nonprofit boards is board members who think their role gives them the right to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization. These board members often get involved in staff supervision and micro-management of the organization. Quite often, the board member believes they are just helping. But, left unchecked, this bad habit can lead to ongoing conflict with the executive director. If this habit exists in your organization, it is time to provide the board with education about board governance.

Bad Habit #2 – It is not unusual for a group to have at least one individual who is constantly negative. This can become a problem when the focus of the negativity is on the board or the organization. Board members should be the biggest supporters or ambassadors for the organization. Board members should not discuss their concerns about the board, the executive director, other staff members, or the organization in public. Issues in any of these areas should be discussed confidentially within the board. Once board members leave the board room, they should be supporting the decisions of the board….as a united front…whether they personally agree with the decision or not.

Bad Habit #3 – There are often board members who become promise-keepers. In other words, they make promises to those outside the organization about things the organization will do.  As a result, they try to insist that the organization fulfills those promises. Again, board members should understand they cannot make promises on behalf of the organization. This habit can be avoided by ensuring board members fully understand the mission of the organization and the various programs and services that are methods to the mission.

Bad Habit #4 – Sometimes board members get in the habit of not really paying attention or attending board meetings. Beginning in a busy season, the board member might be overloaded and doesn’t have time to read the board packet, or perhaps even attend the meeting. But then, one time turns into two, and two turns into three. Soon it becomes a pattern. A pattern that is not healthy; board members need to understand the importance of preparing for and attending meetings as their input matters.

Does your board have bad habits? Contact us today to learn how to trade bad habits for good ones.

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