Keeping Your Board Engaged During Difficult Times
As a not-for-profit leader, you’ve been charged with maintaining an effective, energetic working environment during the pandemic, often while expanding your services and mission.
In difficult times, leaders will often turn to their board for support and guidance. Yet, board members aren’t immune from the mental fatigue of the last year. They’re struggling as well and may not be able to bring their full energy in support of your organization.
Here are a few ways to ensure that your board remains active and dynamic in these unique circumstances.
Keep meetings snappy. Perhaps the most important practice for managing your board members is top-notch organization and communication. The most successful meetings have a stated goal, attendees ready to contribute, a purpose communicated within the time allotted, and a written record of the process and outcomes.
As you organize your agenda, arrange them so that you tackle more important items first. Participant attention tends to fade within the first 20 minutes of any meeting. If there’s an informational item that could be conveyed by email or document, consider adding it to the agenda as a reference.
Limit the time for your online meeting to an hour or less. Put a time frame around each agenda item, including kicking off and closing out the meeting.
Up your virtual game. You’ve seen the commercials and internet memes of conference calls with continuous disruptions and distractions. Everyone is frustrated and nothing gets accomplished.
However, as we are now realizing, virtual meetings can be productive if you know the technology, so continue to get better at your video conferencing platform. If your platform has built-in engagement tools like voting and polling, try them. Many platforms are upgrading frequently, so stay on top of updates.
Encourage empathy. The pandemic has added unique challenges to everyone’s lives, and these challenges may affect your board’s performance.
Spend time understanding the difficulties and concerns your board members may be facing and consider board changes if necessary, even if only temporarily.
Your board may be able to redistribute tasks if one member is overwhelmed or takes time off. Make it a point to ask whether additional resources are needed for any assigned duties.
Ask for input. Your board is likely one of your most valuable sources of advice and feedback. If you sense board boredom, ask them for help and continue to seek their input on how to keep your organization engaged during these continuing challenges.
The pandemic has burdened many nonprofits. But as the world gets back to normal, the support of your board will be crucial for your organization to maximize new opportunities and deliver on its mission. Dembo Jones’ specialized not-for-profit team can set you up for success, including helping to keep your board on track. Contact us today.