Mixed messages due to ill-defined roles damage board productivity. The #1 obstacle to successful governance is board and staff not knowing who is in charge of what, according to Nancy Falls, author of Corporate Concinnity in the Boardroom.
Beyond the obvious – the Board guides and Management operates – NESC has observed numerous nonprofit organizations struggle because they have not clearly divided up the work.
These struggles become especially pronounced as nonprofits grow and change. What happens when a board shifts from operational concerns, to governance, to fund raising? Or when the founding Executive Director retires; the composition of a board shifts; or external pressures create new challenges?
Communication. Communication. Communication. We hear this word so often, it’s easy to neglect what it means or how it’s accomplished. In the crush of our busy days, it’s even easier to forget that establishing and maintaining clear lines of communication needs to be integral and ongoing.
A simple way to foster communication is to organize opportunities to socialize so that board members and staff get to know each other. Another is to put “prickly” but important topics on the board agenda for discussion. But there’s much more we can help you with.
When we at NESC facilitate board development retreats, we often utilize RACI, a role identification method that allows participants to specify the steps in a process and agree on who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. The important result is a shared understanding of roles and responsibilities, including decision-making authority.
The Food Bank for Westchester recently challenged us with a problem of friction between the ED and the Board regarding roles. As we assessed the situation, it became apparent this issue extended to Board committees, staff and volunteers. The Board needed a top-to-bottom restructuring. Click here for a case study of a successful application of RACI to the challenge of role clarification.
Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.