With a variety of strengths and passions of volunteers on a board, it only makes sense that some traits may cross over and cause confusion. Role confusion not only frustrates board members, but it can slow the efficiency of the board itself. To avoid this, take these actions:
- Have clear position descriptions. This includes board members and committee members. Consider what each role needs to accomplish and lay it out in plain language so that the mission is clear and to avoid confusion and overlap in responsibilities.
- Review these position descriptions often. Is it time to update your roles to fit a new era in your industry? For instance, maybe you need a communication or technology representative. Make sure your roles are spelled out clearly and are in accordance with your goals as chair.
- When there is conflict, involve multiple people. Defusing conflict is tricky, but it helps to have multiple people (including the board chair) there to help manage the situation and make confrontation less intimidating. Three is often a good number for conflict resolution. Bring a peer to help support the member in question and a leader to guide the conversation.
- Work backward. Remember your organization’s mission and work back from there to determine how the board needs to function and how the board members need to be involved. Are there committees that could be formed to ease the work of the board? Are there items the board is overlooking? Start with the mission, the heart of your organization, and go from there.
Board conflict happens. It’s not easy, but it can be an opportunity for you and your board to step back and remind yourselves of the shared mission. To learn more, check out our podcast, Associations Next.