Organizations wanting to avoid relationship mistakes that contribute to board member disengagement should make sure there is clarity on expectations.
In my work to find answers to the question, “Why don’t board members do what they’re supposed to do?” a lack of agreement on roles and responsibilities has been identified as a significant contributor to boards not performing as expected.
Gaining that clarity should start with the initial conversation with each board candidate. In fact, establishing a clear understanding on what’s expected should be considered a critical first step in developing a positive relationship with board members.
Not including clear communication on expectations with a prospective board member can be the cause of a frustrating relationship later.
A must-do in the process for developing expectation clarity is making sure a board candidate understands what’s expected AND confirms that they’re able and willing to make that commitment. It is also imperative is to listen to what expectations the individual has about their board service.
Do the two sets of expectations match? If they don’t, this could be a signal for both parties this won’t be a good fit for either the organization or the board prospect.
Getting clarity on expectations avoids the mistake of assuming an individual knows what the proper board member roles and responsibilities are for your particular organization.
A board member whose expectations aren’t being met is likely to become disengaged so knowing what they’re looking for from their board service is a tool for keeping them motivated.
This exercise in expectation clarity also provides a foundation for having future evaluation conversations about performance.
Making a priority of getting clarity on expectations at the very beginning of a new board member relationship will significantly increase your success rate for benefiting from a positive, productive, and fully engaged board.