Nonprofit Board/Staff Relationships: An Uncomfortable Partnership? | Nonprofit Management
Characteristics of a strong nonprofit board-staff partnership are mutual trust who set the tone for the relationship between the executive and the board as . However, when a board member wants to move from governance to management or. Nonprofit Board/Staff Relationships: An Uncomfortable Partnership? where the lines between governance and management seem to be more easily Board members should have a feel staff sensitivities expressed above. Board Best Practices: Managing the Relationship With Your Fellow Trustees When board members collide on an issue, it's typically a rare or isolated extend to third-party donors, staff and members of the organization.
The board should also monitor compliance with hiring criteria, and trends related to such matters as attendance, sick leave, workers' compensation claims, grievances and critical incidents e.
While members of smaller boards may be directly engaged with staff or clients, boards of larger organizations will not normally have direct dealings with them, except through committee work or formal complaints to the board. The board is responsible, through its budgetary processes, for establishing terms of reference within which it expects management to negotiate employment agreements with other staff. Board work that matters So what more guidance can be provided to the board's relationship with staff?
A Harvard Business Review article suggested that traditional boards are typically comprised of 'high-powered people engaged in low-level activities'. It identified four basic characteristics of a board engaged in high-level activities or 'board work that matters'.
Second, it is driven by results that are linked to defined timetables. Third, it has clear measures of success. Finally, it requires the engagement of the organization's internal and external constituencies.
Good governance and board/staff relations
So directors should focus on the 'vital few rather than the trivial many'. It never ceased to amaze me when I worked for Treasury Board that members would consume half an hour on insignificant items yet pass multi-million dollar budgets in a heartbeat. This must create some glimmer of recognition in your own experience with boards. The roles of the board, its members, the CEO, staff, volunteers and agents; The expectations that each of these players brings to their respective responsibilities and authority; The goals and objectives established for each, and for the organization as a whole which create a focus on results; The lines of communication and accountability for performance; Evaluation against established standards of conduct particularly with respect to major organizational changes, management of resources, expenditure authorities, and expense claims.
All these should be supported by written documentation and policies, and reliable information in manageable chunks that permits objective decision-making - that is, based on fact rather than conjecture or assumptions.
After a brief board training session on policy governance, the chair and executive director proceeded as if this approach had been approved. Yet there were no minutes documenting the decision and many other directors did not support the policy governance approach. In fact, the only minutes available were for the most recent year.
Group home supervisors were in a dual reporting relationship to a manager and a board member. A board chair twice stepped in as interim CEO then returned immediately to the board. The result was a chaotic, dysfunctional organization, poor labour relations, a funder commissioned external audit, and seven CEOs in 10 years.
The Relationship between the Board of Directors and the Management
Clarity of roles and rules is essential to building trust. This should begin during the CEO selection process.Board ... CEO ... Staff: Whose Job is it Anyway?
The board, once it has selected the CEO, is responsible for providing support, guidance, advice, and regular feedback about performance, based on objective criteria. The CEO may seek advice from board committees, individual directors and the chair. However, only the full board has the legal authority to provide formal direction.
The relation between the board and chief executive officer should be challenging, yet supportive and positive - friendly without befriending. It should be arm's length but not adversarial - dependent but not captive.
It relies heavily on the CEO as a full partner in the development of direction and policies since the CEO is much more knowledgeable about, and more heavily invested in, the organization. However, it should maintain sufficient independence from management to ensure that it can objectively evaluate CEO performance. Board members of smaller organizations with a less rigid hierarchy often interact with staff, particularly management staff, rather informally.
They are a resource pool, often called upon by management to provide advice or guidance in their area of expertise.
Good governance and board/staff relations
However, they must exercise care and tact in proffering unsolicited advice that may strain the boundaries between board stewardship and management discretion and authority. Their support to staff or other managers is best provided through, or with the sanction of, the senior manager, regardless of the size of the organization.
And the senior manager should always be kept in the communication loop to maintain proper lines of authority and accountability. The bottom line on this: However, it is equally important that the responsibilities of one do not undermine the authority of the others, and that there is a constructive process for resolution of problems in those areas where responsibilities might overlap.
Quick Tips I'll conclude by offering some tips that may help deal with problems in perennially troubling areas: As they normally are closed meetings, often restricted only to board members, it is advisable to set straightforward rules and communicate openly their function and purpose. When a nonprofit board faces the painful decision of firing the CEO, it can do great and unnecessary damage to the organization.
However, by focusing on mission, integrity, clarity, and accountability, the board is likely to inflict only wounds that heal and, in healing, leave the organization stronger.
Good Habits of an Effective Board Chair: Serving as the chair of the board is not a role for the indolent and undecided. To accept the responsibility to be in charge of a nonprofit board and to serve as an effective leader — not just a figurehead — assumes that the chair possesses the characteristics and conduct that make the job produce results. It is not unusual for a board member to be interested in a staff opening in an organization. The board member may feel that she has the necessary skills and previous experience with this nonprofit.
However, when a board member wants to move from governance to management or administration, it is important to follow fair hiring procedures and avoid any preferential treatment.
The chief executive is responsible for the overall administration and management of XYZ, including service programs, fundraising, and business operations. The job description outlines the areas of responsibility include planning and evaluation, policy development and administration, personnel and fiscal management, and public relations. Performance Expectations for the Chief Executive Members only resource. Clarifying job expectations is essential for both employees and supervisors.