Would you like to have more substantive conversations this year?
Sara Wilson, CPCC |
I have been thinking a lot about my current conversations. Are they fulfilling? Do they result in the type of information I seek? Are they building the kinds of relationships I want? Honestly, on many fronts, for me the answer is “no.” How about you?
There are many reasons our conversations may be less effective than we desire, but let’s focus on just one issue – TIME. I am frequently told by executive leaders and board leaders that there is never enough time at board meetings, or that board meetings are too long but the group still runs out of time to discuss the important issues. There is a desire for substantive conversations at board meetings — conversations of major importance. Here are some ways you accomplish that:
- Review your agenda – where are the substantial conversation topics on major issues to be decided or discussed? They should be early in the meeting. Clearly designate these as “Action” or “Decision” Items.
- Use a consent agenda – This is a relatively new tool being used across the nonprofit sector to make board meetings more productive. The consent agenda helps boards save time by bundling routine items to be voted on all at once, bypassing unnecessary discussion. To learn more about how consent agendas can help your board, see the links at the end of this newsletter.
- Avoid rear-view window gazing unless it will impact your future (committee chairs should only present decision-needed items; past committee discussions should be shared via committee minutes sent prior to the board meeting).
- Engage board members with open-ended questions on substantive issues such as: How do we position ourselves to be a leader in our focus area? What external trends are impacting our organization? What are the financial trends?
How might your meeting effectiveness and board member engagement improve if you ensured every meeting had time for a substantive conversation?