What An Annoying Situation!
Anne was headed down the hall toward me, and she did not look happy.
I stepped aside to let her pass and then followed her into her office and asked,
“I can see something annoyed you; want to tell me about it?”
Anne took a deep breath and then another one before answering. I knew she had to be on high heat to take two deep breaths, so I waited.
“I just came from a virtual Board meeting that was like an 'afternoon drop in,' or a 'come and go party!'
"Some Board members were late, so we were delayed until we reached Quorum, then several members left early.
“These meetings are scheduled for a year out; you would think that the Board members would put them in their calendars as “non-negotiable” dates!
“We have a provision for someone from the Board member’s committee to attend in their place if an emergency arises; there should be no reason to be late, absent, or leave early.
I was a bit confused and asked,
“What is Quorum?”
“Ah, I am glad you asked, Edna!
“The Board’s Bylaws stipulate the minimum number of Board members who must be in attendance before any Board business may be conducted. In this case, a majority of members is required; since there are 19 Board members so Quorum would be 10 of them.
“The fact that we were delayed in calling the meeting to order tells you that MOST of the Board members arrived late!
“On top of that, several Board members did not submit their reports for the Consent Agenda.”
Oh dear, I have to ask another question; I raised my wing to signal my interruption.
“What is a Consent Agenda?”
Anne stopped for a moment then replied, “Again I am glad you asked. Consent Agendas are used to expedite routine Board business so we can focus on significant and strategic matters during the Board meeting itself.
“Routine items presented to the Board, for example, a summary of events held, or a financial update showing we are on track, are submitted in written reports to the Board. These reports are assembled and distributed well in advance so the Board members can review them and come prepared to ask questions at the Board meeting.
“Typically there will be a single motion to accept all the Consent Agenda items, instead of individual motions for each report.
“When these Board Reports are not submitted for distribution, the responsible Board member(s) gives a verbal report during the meeting which takes up valuable Board time and attention.”
"Hmm, what do you see as the solution?” I asked.
Anne did not hesitate, “Our Board President should be dealing with these issues by holding the negligent Board members accountable for their behaviour. Today she was very gentle, saying things like ‘life happens,’ ‘we do what we can,’ and 'we are all volunteers, and we have other priorities,’ essentially excusing the Board members.”
“What WOULD YOU DO if you were the Board President, Anne?”
“I would have one-on-one meetings/phone/zoom calls with the offenders; I would open the conversation by saying something like, “I observed you arriving late/leaving early/ having to provide a verbal report at our most recent Board meeting. I am sure you noticed how disruptive it was for the other Board members.
“What you may not have considered is that, in addition to disrupting our meeting, you are consuming more than your share of our resources. Other Board members wait while we bring you up to speed in the conversation, which is disrespectful of those who arrived on time, and our Board Secretary has additional work as she must include your verbal report in the minutes of the meeting.
“It is my responsibility to ensure that our Board meetings are run efficiently – start on time and end on time, with adequate time allocated for discussion of our issues.
“I am sure you would agree that your responsibility, as a member of this Board, is to comply with the reporting requirements, to arrive on time, stay for the whole meeting and contribute your knowledge to our decisions. These responsibilities are articulated in the agreement you signed when you joined this Board.
“May I count on you to step up and fulfill these responsibilities?”
Well, that was pretty direct! “What if the Board member says no?” I asked.
“Then we continue with a conversation about how to handle transition to their replacement.”
“And what if they say yes, and then don’t follow through?” I asked.
“Since it would be our second conversation on this topic, I would be sharing my ‘three strikes, and you’re out' philosophy, and reminding them that they had now used two of the three.
“Again, they would have the opportunity to either step up or step down.”
"WHAT WILL YOU DO?" I asked.
Anne took two more deep breaths before answering,
“I am going to communicate my observations to the Board President, when I have calmed down.”
Have you had similar experiences, dear reader? What action(s) have you taken?