An organization that is highly effective long-term has a smart and healthy board. This requires that appropriate people are sitting on the board. One bad apple can spoil the whole bushel. If you are serving your organization well, you won’t let one bad board member cripple your progress.
Too many organizations rely on term limits to oust an under-contributor. At a recent hospital governance conference, Jamie Orlikoff mentioned that he had heard some board members say of a peer, “we only have to put up with him for another six years”. Ouch! How painful for the board members, the CEO, and the organization! There are other avenues.
Board member evaluations are a major part of the solution. When organizations have written board member expectations or job descriptions it is possible to provide feedback to each board member on what she is doing well or where he could improve. The board chair or board governance committee is often assigned the task of ensuring board member evaluations happen. The intent is that board members will be appreciated and encouraged in their areas of contribution and will receive training and coaching in the areas of concern so that they can become great contributors. However, if an underperforming board member has no interest in or no potential for performing well in the board role, it is time to encourage – and eventually insist – that she not continue as a board member. As Jim Brown, one of my Strive! colleagues says, “terming out is copping out”. Leaders need to take tough actions.