Former Florida nonprofit executive Linda Osmundson recommends that new CEOs place high emphasis on an individual meeting with each board member during the first 100 days.
“In the first 100 days, a new executive should meet with every board member individually, preferably in the board member’s office,” Osmundson said. “Use this meeting to find out their agenda, why they are on the board and what their experience has been so far.”
The meeting is also a place where you can stress an important issue to you as the new executive: the organization’s complaint process. “Set the stage so if board members hear any complaints, they come back to the executive director,” Osmundson said. “If complaints are coming from staff, then the president of the board should deal with that right away with the whole board.”
During that first 100 days on a new job, the CEO should strive to meet individually with each staff member. “The executive director should also meet with the staff individually if possible or with employee leadership groups to talk about your decision-making style,” Osmundson said.
“I remember telling my new staff that most decisions would be made by staff because they best understand on a day-to-day basis,” she said.
An example: Who should make the decision about a program participant? That would be a staff decision, Osmundson said.
“Some decisions would be made by me after a lot of staff input. A few decisions would be made by me alone and I would be clear about which kind of decision this is,” Osmundson said.
Normally, if there was a decision needed regarding a board member, it was hers to make, she said. If it was a decision about something in the community, then that would be jointly made by the staff and by Osmundson.
“If you get all this done in the first 100 days, then you should be a success,” Osmundson said.