Board Meetings: Worst Practices

Factors that Result in an Ineffective Meeting

Ineffective Board and Committee meetings are one of the key factors that inhibit a board from operating most efficiently and helps drive better decision-making. As an advisor to boards, I have participated in hundreds of meetings over the years and have observed both efficient and inefficiently run meetings. Ultimately, the meetings that ran most inefficiently are distracted by trivial issues that delay decision-making.

Four Key Factors That Lead to Ineffective Board or Committee Meeting

1. Poor Time Management

2. Lack of Member Participation

3. Insufficient Time to Review Materials

4. Unprepared Board/Committee Members

Poor Time Management

This occurs in situations where the key issues to be discussed are side-tracked by trivial or unrelated issues that would be better discussed outside of the scheduled meeting time. It also can happen when an insufficient amount of time is allocated to discuss important issues. This means that decisions are either rushed or are deferred until future meetings, which can delay the organization’s overall agenda.

Lack of  Member Participation

This occurs in situations where one to two members of the Board/Committee dominate the conversation while other members are either unable to speak or are less prepared and therefore have little to add to the conversation. This means that the full breadth of views on an issue may not be discussed and considered, which can lead to less effective decision-making. It also can lead certain Board/Committee members, who are unable to participate, to question their relevance and value that they are bringing to the discussion.

Insufficient Time to Review Materials

This occurs in situations where meeting agendas and supporting materials are sent out only one to two days in advance of a meeting. Not only does this provide Board/Committee members with very little time to review materials before the meeting, but it also provides less time to adjust the meeting agenda and associated timelines if it is felt that too little time has been allocated to discuss certain topics.

Unprepared Board/Committee Members

This factor can be influenced by some of the aforementioned issues, but ultimately leads to less effective meetings as Board/Committee members are not able to effectively discuss the important issues or may take things sideways by discussing issues that were already addressed in the meeting materials. If members are not prepared, ineffective decision-making is the result, which ultimately is not in the best interest of the organization.

Effective Meetings Lead to Higher Performance

Ensuring effective meetings of the boards and its committees is key in making sure that your board is performing at a high level. If you find your Board/Committee meetings are less effective, look for signs of this through the factors listed above and read: Creating Board Meetings – Best Practices. By looking at what works best in creating effective meetings, you can improve your board’s overall effectiveness which should lead to better decision-making and positive results for your organization.

Written by Peter Landers

Jul 27, 2018

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