By Betsy Barbieux / Published August 2016
Editor’s Note: Boardmanship for Charity, Part One was published in the June 2016 issue and can be accessed at pubs.royle.com/publication/?i=303948&p=30.
Another way to encourage people to serve as board members and volunteers in your civic or philanthropic organizations is to make sure meetings are handled efficiently. Meetings should start on time, always follow an agenda, keep moving (never be allowed to stall), include all directors, reach a conclusion, and end at a reasonable time.
In addition, meetings should achieve other goals:
• Provide members with up-to-date information
• Develop a sense of team
• Encourage broader participation in decision making
• Spread the work load
• Stimulate more creative solutions
• Enhance and improve initial ideas
• Encourage leadership growth of members
• Develop commitment to group decisions
Remember, your organization needs board members. You should be developing guidelines that will provide a more encouraging environment for your potential volunteers.
The chairperson is in charge of running the board meeting. He or she has the authority to regulate the meeting and is responsible for enforcing any rules that govern the proceedings, keeping order, and ensuring the successful completion of business.
The chairperson can have an enormous impact on the outcome of a meeting. To do so beneficially, the chairperson should be familiar with parliamentary procedure and should have good people and communication skills. It is extremely important that he or she remains neutral throughout the meeting.
There are always obstacles to overcome in a meeting. The chairperson should remember key points:
1. You are responsible for ensuring that any discussion is relevant to the points on a meeting’s agenda. You must be willing to stop irrelevant discussions. This is not a time to be polite and afraid to interrupt. You will lose the respect (not to mention the attention) of the others present if you allow the irrelevant discussion to continue. If you cannot gain control of a loud participant, then move for a recess, or adjourn the meeting to another time.
2. A chairperson should repeat any motion proposed by those attending to ensure that everyone has heard and understood it. It is wise to have the secretary or the person taking minutes sitting beside you to help you restate the business at hand.
3. A chairperson can expel anyone who disrupts a meeting.
4. A chairperson is responsible for summing up the discussion at the end of a meeting. Be sure that all agenda items have been taken care of before the meeting is adjourned. The secretary or person taking the minutes sitting next to you will be of enormous help in this instance.
The ideal chairperson should have a wide range of personal skills. Brush up on these essential skills before chairing any meeting.
• Firmness in running meetings
• Dealing with problem people
• Beginning and ending on time
• Ability to summarize points succinctly
• Flexibility when dealing with the different tones and styles of attendees
• Openness and receptiveness when listening to opinions that you do not share
• Fair-mindedness in ensuring that all views are aired and given equal consideration
1. Open the meeting with a short summary of its purpose and agenda.
2. Prevent irrelevant debate. If you must stand to regain control of the meeting, do so. It is appropriate to remind those present that discussion must remain on point. Hint: Wait for the speaker to take a breath, then interrupt him and say “thank you,” and immediately acknowledge the next speaker by turning your body slightly to her and making eye contact. Use your hand (open palm facing up) to invite her to speak.
3. Ensure voting procedures are followed correctly. Be sure you are aware of which motions require a majority vote and which motions require a two-thirds vote. Brush up on those parliamentary rules.
Most boards consist of 12 or fewer directors. According to Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, small boards may use less formal parliamentary procedures. Following are some of these particular distinction:
• Directors are not required to stand before speaking or obtain the floor before making motions.
• There is no limit on the number of times a member may speak in debate on a question. Motions to limit debate are not usually appropriate.
• Discussion of a matter is allowed before a motion is made. Sometimes you don’t know if you need a motion until there has been some informal discussion. Hence, board members do not usually come with a “prepared” motion.
• The president of the board (if acting as chairman) may speak in debate without rising, may make motions, and does vote on all questions unless there is a specific conflict of interest.
Board members should be reminded of the basic rules of parliamentary procedure. Some of them are:
1. The rights of the organization supersede the rights of the individual members. Should a conflict arise between a member’s right to speak and the organization’s right to conduct its business, the right of the organization prevails.
2. A quorum must be present to call the meeting to order and to conduct business. Check your bylaws for your quorum requirements.
3. One question at a time and one speaker at a time. Manners are the order of the day. Remember to bring yours to the meeting.
4. Personal remarks in debate are unacceptable, and the president should immediately (and forcefully, if necessary) rule them out of order.
With a positive attitude, which should be the first requirement for every board member and volunteer, meetings do not have to be the worst part of your day. If you are determined to keep your cool, be firm, and stay on task, your meeting should run smoothly.
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM
Florida CAM Schools
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while at the same time dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. For more than 15 years, Barbieux has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Barbieux is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. For more information, contact Betsy@FloridaCAMSchools.com, (352) 326-8365, or www.FloridaCAMSchools.com.