How to Properly Set Board Member Expectations

Board expectationsLow board engagement and organizational effectiveness are often caused by passively managed expectations.  From interviewing through the lifespan of a sitting member, board directors must properly communicate goals, priorities and performance metrics. Here’s how;

 1.    Start at the Beginning

The best way to garner good habits is to set a precedent from the get-go. While interviewing prospective members, consider asking them:

  • How much time they can dedicate to the board beyond standard meeting hours
  • What elements and characteristics they are looking for in a board
  • How they will evaluate the successfulness of the board and their involvement
  • What expectations they have

Smart vetting practices ensure your board is staffed with members who are willing and able to meet set standards and expectations.

 2.    Clearly State Responsibilities

Don’t assume that expectations are known. You can’t hold board members accountable to expectations that you never set. As you bring on new members, clearly overview board goals and responsibilities with them so that they understand what their role will be. In these discussions, articulate the time and financial commitment, as well as how you will evaluate their performance.

In addition, kick off the first meeting of every year with a refresher.  Include this information in the meeting materials for easy reference by all members.

 3.    Enforce Expectations

Expectations will only be met if enforced. Draft a policy to inform members of the repercussions of not meeting set expectations. For example, perhaps they will get a warning first, but be asked to resign from their post after repeat offenses. 

Utilize a technology solution, such as a board portal, to track board member’s meeting attendance and contributions, then run reports to see who is exceeding (or missing) the mark. Use this information as talking points when enforcing expectations.

 4.    Ask for Feedback

Are expectations feasible? Ask your board membersNot only will this aid you in formulating appropriate and manageable expectations, but it will also allow members to feel that they have a say over processes. As with any group, members involved in strategy are more likely to put their best foot forward.

What tactics do you use to manage board expectations? Share your thoughts below.

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