BODYou are not a good board member if you do not attend meetings regularly. What do I mean when I say regularly? You must attend at least 75-percent of the meetings. Miss more than that and the agency should professionally, impartially and respectively ask for your resignation.

Here are a few of the most common excuses I have heard over the years regarding poor-attendance ….

It’s hard to find board members so we need to keep them even if they don’t attend our meetings regularly.
If we got rid of the people who don’t attend meetings, we wouldn’t have a board.
I’m a busy person and sometimes my schedule conflicts with meetings dates.
We can’t drop of our largest donor – we’ll just excuse his/her absences.

You are missing the point if you give credence to any of these (or any other) excuses for poor attendance. More importantly, you are doing a huge disservice to your organization. Corporate governance is a collective act and governance only happens when the board is together.

The hard facts.

  • When a board member is missing, he/she is not a good board member; when a board member is missing most of the time, he/she is a lousy board member.
  • Don’t keep poor performers around. It is not fair to other board members, to staff and to your organization’s mission.
  • Being a great donor doesn’t make the person a great board member. Keep your good donor through great relationship building and remove the person from the board.
  • Board conversations matter. Sharing ideas and thoughts outside the board meeting does not make a good board member and does not help the board.
  • Set and enforce board member performance expectations.
  • And, believe it or not, encourage attrition. That’s how to help the underperforming board member leave gracefully. It affords the member to opportunity to acknowledge the problem and offers him an exit. If the board member isn’t smart enough to honestly see his/her performance, then the organization explains clearly and explains why resignation is necessary. That’s what I call thanks and release.

Bottom line: Recruit board members who are so committed to your organization that they rarely miss board meetings. Keep board members who are willing to inconvenience themselves for your organization.

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