Undoing Your Board’s Micro Managing Habit | Good Boundaries Make Good Board Members

Good Boundaries Make Good Board Members

It started innocently enough. A board member called your program manager to answer a question. During the call, she told the staff member how to use the information.
Months later, you realize that incident was the first time you noticed your board’s micromanaging habit. Micromanaging boards harm nonprofits. Micromanaged entitles meander instead of beelining to goals. Meandering nonprofits try to move in multiple directions at the same time.
What can you do to eradicate a board’s micromanaging habit? What actions will direct your board to focus on strategy and policy, instead? Here are three to start.

1. Establish Clarity

Each week, you and your staff interact with the board in dozens of ways.  When is the board member representing the board? When are they volunteering? To extinguish micromanaging, establish clarity about their authority in different situations.

Look back over you last dozen interactions. What role did each board member take?
What role did you accept? How might you respond differently, especially when individual board members issue orders?

2. Teach What “Help” Means

You asked for your board members to help your nonprofit. You must also teach them the best ways to help. Use each step of the board member lifecycle to educate them. That is, ask prospects, recruits, and members for policy and strategy work. Include strategy and policy requests in your on-boarding, agendas, and evaluation procedures.
If you fail to teach your board how to help, they’ll assume their micromanaging is what you need.

3. Thrive in the Tension

Robert Frost’s words, “Good fences make good neighbors,” inspired this post and the video below. Frost’s poem, Mending Wall, begins“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” Twice in the poem, Frost’s neighbor tells him, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
The poem epitomizes the need to keep your board focused on their work. When your board focuses on strategy and policy, they leverage everyone’s efforts. In the poem, Frost and his neighbor mend the wall together. Mend your staff-board boundary breeches together.
You can change your board’s micromanaging habit. If you don’t want to tackle it alone, give me a call.

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