Time to set the tone for the new year. Your budget and goals may be set, but how about your board? Unless you want the board to simply roll into 2014 and repeat its (good, or average, or poor) performance from 2013 you’ll need to do something to “up their game”.

Business and nonprofit leadership guru Peter Drucker said this about boards. He suggested the following sign be hung over the boardroom door: “Membership on this board is not power; it is responsibility”. I love this!

Fair enough–who’s going to disagree with Peter Drucker anyway? So, I’ve been thinking about how to do this. How can board presidents, executive directors, and ministry leaders instill this sense of responsibility, urgency, and recommitment in each of their directors before the new year begins?

Here are some thoughts I hope will provide you with some effective talking points. Consider meeting with each board member over the next 30-45 days to be sure everyone is on the same page when the new year starts. The content of these meetings should be to:

  • Gain clarity and agreement on each one’s role for the coming year—Why was he/she recruited onto the board in the first place
  • Determine how they want and feel called to serve…determine what energizes them and then try to accommodate them and use them accordingly
  • Establish an understanding and acceptance of your hopes and expectations for each director
  • Recommit to staying in personal touch with each director throughout the year
  • Provide and seek feedback on how last year went
  • Commit to partner with each other to make each other and the ministry a success in the new year
  • Confirm all directors have clarity on Mission, Vision, Values, and 2014 strategy
  • Iron out any unresolved process or relational problems between ED and board, ED and Board Chair, or any others and develop new protocols as necessary so everyone gets on the same page
  • Identify any knowledge gaps directors may have and determine what topics from your Board Procedure Manual or Board Orientation and Training Program might need full board discussions and training in the coming year
  • Create and explain a simple tracking system (you’ll need to develop) to monitor progress on all of the agency’s goals, initiatives, projects
  • Assure everyone understands the metrics you are using in 2014, what will be measured, and how
  • Reinforce your insistence for open, frank, respectful discussions at all board and committee meetings-Everyone is deserving of respect always
  • Remind them of the mission-the calling-the clients who are relying on them

These may not rise to the level of nonprofit board best practices, tho they could. However, I think they offer a great way to improve your board’s performance, nonprofit board impact, and nonprofit board accountability.

Now it’s your turn. Let me know what you think. What other topics should be discussed with your board before the new year begins?