Dealing With Board Directors

Preventive measures are the best way to handle difficult board members. Make sure your agency’s goals for its board members are clear and they are able to align their vision with the organization. This reduces the number of situations in which a member’s advice can be counterproductive. But if a problem arises, deal with it early and do not overlook any the behavior that is causing you concern. Avoiding it will only make it worse.

It begins by establishing a direct, one-on-one meeting with the individual who is causing issues. You should be professional and calm but also direct and express your concerns clearly. The ideal scenario is that the person will agree with you and change their behavior, however in the event that it doesn’t work, you can try making an intervention in the group with the chair and/or someone who the board member is highly respected by. It may be beneficial to go through your agency’s Values statement and/or other documents that govern the organization for words that could serve as a standard for acceptable behavior, including treating people with respect.

Another option is to convince the person to step down from the board (ideally voluntarily but, where needed, through the vote of no confidence). This will require some careful planning and preparation prior to the meeting or conversation. For instance, make sure you are aware of the major issues you’d like to discuss and prepare an elaborate response ready. Be assertive, but maintain the appropriate tone.