The plain fact is some board members don’t understand why their contact with staff should be channeled through the CEO. Some examples:
Board concern: “We should have a say in who gets hired.”
It’s my firm belief that hiring staff should be the executive director’s job—not the board’s. The CEO can ameliorate frustration to some extent by explaining the process used to select new staff. When board members are more comfortable that your system is thorough and professional, they’ll back off their interest in hiring staff.
When you hire a key staff member, tell the board what you looked for in applicants, where you looked, how many applied, how many you interviewed and how the person hired fits your original criteria.
Who you hire should be your decision. When you give board members confidence you made the right decision, their concern should dwindle.
Board concern: “I am worried about staff morale. How can I tell if staff are happy in their jobs? Even when a staff member brings a concern to me, I have to tell him to bring it to the executive director.”
I’m convinced that when a board sets out to “improve staff relations,” that’s what they really want to do—not take power from you or exercise power over staff comings and goings.
That’s an honorable motive, so here are a few strategies to let the board know that staff morale is high—even if an employee complains:
- Arrange social events where staff and board can get to know one another outside the work setting.
- Keep the board well-informed about staff achievements, staff promotions and new initiatives by staff. Bring staff to board meetings to discuss their programs. This is the sign the board needs from the executive director that all is well with staff.
- Encourage the board to recognize staff, reward them and regularly say “thanks.”
Jeff Stratton, Editor