Should you fire underperforming board members? The author of "Firing Lousy Board Members" thinks so, and she outlines the process for doing so. Of course, it's not as easy as saying, "So-and-so is a lousy board member. Out!" No, a board needs to operate in such a way that (1) expectations for board service are made clear, (2) board members are given the tools they need to meet those expectations, and (3) there is a system for evaluating and giving feedback to board members.

In the post, the author lays these out as a series of steps:

  • The chief executive and board members must understand that board service is serious business.
  • Standards and recruitment. Expectations need to be clear from the start, preferably as part of the recruitment process.
  • Orient and develop. The staff enables to board to succeed. This is ongoing.
  • Monitor performance. The governance committee is responsible for monitoring the performance of board members.
  • Give feedback. The governance committee shares concerns with the errant board member. If a board members needs to be addressed twice, it's time to go.
  • Enhance attrition or "thank and release": With pressure, a governance board may be able to convince a nonperforming board member to step up to his or her responsibilities. Or the pressure will encourage the board member to resign. If neither of these are effective, it's time for a diplomatic adios.
This article was written for the business community, and we know that in the world of seminary governance, there are all sorts of board members who either can't be let go (because they are ecclesiastical or denominational appointees, for example) or who are valuable for reasons other than their service (i.e, because they are major donors). If these members are unproductive, then an effective board needs to find thoughtful ways to encourage more active engagement.


Image, courtesy of the New Deal of the Day Blog.