Mar 25 2011
Whenever I get a call that begins “I talked to (insert board president’s name) who said it would be okay if I (insert an activity that will require my association to deviate from an established practice, policy or procedure),” I know that I’m going to be in for a long day. Yep, when the big dogs roll over, the rest of the pack is left scrambling like puppies on wet linoleum. So how do you keep your organization out of the doghouse when a board member makes a promise out of turn–without biting the hand that feeds you? Here are a few things that work for me:
- Don’t Growl — if the request is not illegal and if it will not undermine the integrity of your association, suck it up and keep the promise or commitment made on your behalf by the board member. Be firm about any unbreakable rules, but always be positive, gracious and pleasant to the person making the request. In the event that you are unable to accommodate the request, attempt to find a better, more legitimate solution.
- Mark your territory—educate the entire board regarding their fiduciary duties as board members and/or board officers. Make sure that they understand the potential consequences of making off-line promises that result in rule exceptions. Each board member should have a clear understanding of where her responsibilities and authority starts and stops.
Fetch—Make sure that your association’s staff is accessible and responsive to member requests. Members who receive courteous, timely and consistent responses from staff members will be less likely to go around.
Establishing and consistently enforcing your board’s “leash” laws is critical for the cohesiveness and integrity of the association—and it can also be one of the more challenging aspects of a CEO’s job. Like the saying goes though, “if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.”