4.0 - Rehearsal Scenarios: Board Member Interactions with the CEO or Staff Rehearsal 4.1: Program Decisions: Board or Staff? "You need to want more interaction and find ways to do so. SCENARIO: A credit union board member has an idea about a children’s banking program that he thinks should be implemented. with staff can go through the CEO. At the university level, the process is called "shared governance." In this instance it is also the staff… Ethic of ‘volunteerism’ in Boards may make Board members wary of monitoring or controlling professional staff – and professional staff resentful of attempted control by perceived ‘amateurs’. Management has to be done by a manager, and no board member is likely to have the time, the skills or the day-to-day know-how to be able to out-perform the staff. Board members can get their arms and minds around operational issues. Governance can be hard work, and sometimes it seems very esoteric to those trying to grasp the fundamentals. They are a resource pool, often called upon by management to provide advice or guidance in their area of expertise. Here are a few insights on the subject: • Respect and celebrate staff accomplishments, both individually and as a group. The issue lies with a couple of board members working on a committee with a couple of staff members. Normally these would occur when staff are supporting a particular portfolio, event, or program. The board … Board members of smaller organizations with a less rigid hierarchy often interact with staff, particularly management staff, rather informally. In this Blue Avocado article by Jan Masaoka, “ Should Staff Contact with the Board Be Restricted,” the benefits and hesitations behind board and staff interaction highlight why this is not a black and white situation. Remember: if you invited board members to serve as volunteer staff, they are doing exactly what you asked them to do. Problem #5: Remnants of Crisis If your board has just experienced (or is in the midst of experiencing) a crisis, they have had to jump in with both feet to get the job done and make sure the organization survives. He shared it with the CEO, but the CEO did not proceed to implement the program. Desire to maintain smooth personal relationships, as part of satisfaction with He agrees that engaging the board isn't just a quarterly, formal interaction. • Staff input is crucial for major decisions, and staff members need to interact with board groups in conducting major program reviews. In the good old days (and they' re still not so old at a lot of companies), all communication between the board members and company staff was funneled through the CEO' s office. • Meet with staff in small groups and on appropriate problem solving committee assignments. According to Jan Masaoka, Director and Editor-in-Chief of Blue Avocado, some chief executives feel that independent board-staff interaction undermines their authority and creates the potential for staff to provide the board with misinformation.Similarly, they might be concerned that board members will inadvertently leak inappropriate information to staff (ie. Yes, this looks different for each organization—depending on critical factors like the nonprofit’s size, culture, and scope of work. I know people who believe it is easier to run a 150-person operating committee than to develop a two-page policy statement for the board. However, it is important that the CEO is apprised of board member–staff interactions and the aim of these. Board members should have a feel staff sensitivities expressed above. The CEO needs to strive to create an atmosphere in which staff members feel free to express opinions in these reviews. Overload for Board members, detracting from effective decision-making. 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