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The Missing Board Member

What would you do if a board member consistently misses meetings or isn’t engaging with the board? The missing board member is an issue at many organizations. This has a negative impact on the efficiency of the board. Watch the video above or keep reading below to learn more about the effects of keeping a missing board member on your board. I will also give you five tips on how to deal with that board member.

The First Step

The missing board member is common at any organization, but especially at non-profits and not for profit organizations. This is because they typically don’t compensate their board members. Regardless, if this is happening at your organization the board really needs to take action. Typically, my first recommendation is to have the Chair talk to the individual and tell them why it is important that they are attending meetings. 

Importance of Attending Meetings

A board member’s duty is to attend meetings and be engaged on the board. If they aren’t at the meetings, they aren’t fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities. Additionally, the board operates much less efficiently when board members are consistently missing meetings. Say a person has missed three meetings and then finally attends a meeting. They have now missed out on important conversations and may ask questions that have already been answered. This is wasting the time of the board and the CEO. So, it is important to commit to being an active board member at the organization.

What You Can Do

  1. Make sure that prospective board members are aware of the time commitment that it takes to be on the board. If you already know the dates and time for your board meetings, it is a good idea to give those to the prospective board member. This way they can judge whether they would be able to make those meetings or not.
  2. During the onboarding process, set proper attendance expectations. Let them know that they are expected to be at every board meeting, engaged and ready to have a conversation. If you set these expectations early, it allows the prospective board member to evaluate whether they would be a good fit for the board.
  3. Take action with the person who is consistently missing from the board. As I said earlier, the first step is typically to have the chair talk to the person.
  4. When their term is up, the board can decide to not renew that person’s membership on the board. Make sure that you tell them why – maybe they’re missing too many meetings, they aren’t engaged enough, they aren’t adding to the value of the board, etc.
  5. Have each of the board members evaluate each other. This might get a bit emotional with your board members, but it is a great way to evaluate performance of your board members. If the missing board member sees how the other board members evaluate them, maybe they will be able to see that they aren’t fulfilling their expectations.

Board member positions are extremely important. It is key to attend the meetings and be committed to the board!

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