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What to do with board members who do nothing?

Nadia Prescott

There’s nothing more demotivating than coming to a board meeting and finding the same one or two people never show up. Its sets the wrong tone for other board members, and they are more than likely watching to see how the situation will be handled. So whose responsibility is it to “do something” about a board member who does not show up consistently, or who does not carry their weight, especially in a small organization that relies on board members to be a working board?

The responsibility is yours. And the problem only gets worse if you don’t address it. First things first – confirm that you were clear in expressing board participation expectations during orientation. If so, then ask either your board chair or chair of the governance committee to find the time to talk one-on-one with the board member about regular attendance.

Make sure you learn the reasons why that person isn’t coming regularly. Perhaps they have a personal problem that needs to be addressed, and taking a short term leave of absence is the best solution. Listen carefully without making assumptions, and then evaluate whether or not that board member has the time and commitment to participate in a meaningful way.