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Family Feud:How to prevent falling into the Board Member Conflict Trap
 

Family Feud:How to prevent falling into the Board Member Conflict Trap

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Amid these "Difficult Economic Times" (a term nearing cliché status), organizations are suffering - money lost through investments, down-turn in annual gifts and everyone pointing fingers; ...

Amid these "Difficult Economic Times" (a term nearing cliché status), organizations are suffering - money lost through investments, down-turn in annual gifts and everyone pointing fingers; "Our Board Members won\'t provide names or ask their social network for support" OR , "Staff isn\'t hitting fund raising goals, we need to trim budgets, cut staff and management will take up the slack". A perfect storm for conflict, a family conflict. In my eyes, staff and board are family, and family dysfunction makes everyone uneasy and stagnant.

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    Family Feud:How to prevent falling into the Board Member Conflict Trap Family Feud:How to prevent falling into the Board Member Conflict Trap Document Transcript

    • Family Feud: How to Prevent Falling into the Board Member Conflict Trap. Amid these "Difficult Economic Times" (a term nearing cliché status), organizations are suffering - money lost through investments, down-turn in annual gifts and everyone pointing fingers; "Our Board Members wont provide names or ask their social network for support" OR , "Staff isnthitting fund raising goals, we need to trim budgets, cut staff and management will take up theslack". A perfect storm for conflict, a family conflict. In my eyes, staff and board are family, andfamily dysfunction makes everyone uneasy and stagnant.The crux is, there seems to be more chatter about board/staff conflict than ever. Itsunderstandable, fundamental changes are required during times like these. More than everbefore your Board and staff must bond together and find ways to change, remain relevant andeffective. People are watching, particularly donors.All the same, we know "change" begets discomfort and discontent. Undoubtedly at the turn ofevery corner you will be reminded of and faced with resistance asyou delicately mold your organization into a trimmed-down, lean-and-mean machine. Did I just use "delicate and mean machine" inthe same sentence? Yes, I did. Considering your best bet indelivering the goods is walking that fine line between diplomacyand standing strong on firm ground. What you must avoid isignoring those grappling with the transformation. Your organization requires everyone movingin tandem. The unfortunate truth? Its extremely unlikely that everyone will; including boardmembers. Internal conflict is brewing.Board conflicts are among the most challenging a nonprofit executive faces. They generallycome in two forms—conflicts among board members and conflicts between the board andmanagement. Both of these difficult situations require special consideration. Oftentimes, the
    • Board and Executive Team are aware of the conflict, take sides and continue on as if all is well;until income dwindles and despite all efforts, recovery is unattainable.If this sounds familiar; let me tell you, it almost always takes a third party (preferably aprofessional fundraising consultant) to come in and fix the "fundraising" problem. Any good consultant will suspect, fairly quickly, that internal conflict launched the loss of funding. Yet, there is confidence in a brighter future. Ill tell you why. When greeted with this situation, Im mindful of the job at hand. I am there to fix fundraising; the internal conflictis a vexing side-effect. But you do need to care for the side-effects before you can fix thefundraising. Heres how:UPON ORGANIZATION APPRAISAL, KEEP THEFOLLOWING QUESTIONS IN MIND )1) Identify your key stakeholders. Who "gets" it and will work hardto salvage relationships.2) Dont get pulled in. Assumptions will be made that youve taken a side. The solution is tonot have "side" conversations. Whenever possible involve those key stakeholders in allconversations and decisions.3) Understand the relationships among your board and staff. Who is aligned with whom?4) Understand the genesis of the problem. Once you have create a value proposition(reciprocal benefit) for each of them.5) Address problems immediately. Determine the best person to address those brewing issues.6) Specifically Align your Key Stake Holders to the organization’s "Fundraising Recovery Plan"7) Ask for help, and show that you are willing to listen and change
    • Once you have appraised the situation, put your recovery plan (this isntthe blog on the resurrection of an annual fund - look for that in April) intoplace understanding that it MUST bring the staff and board intoalignment. The money will follow. Heres how:BOARD AND STAFF ALIGNMENT1) Policies: Do Board member policies need to change? What are theirexpectations? Are they aware of their expectations? Are board memberstrained and given the organization "elevator speech"?2) Job Description: If the answer to Q1 is NO, then are Board Member Job descriptions in place?Are Management Job Descriptions in place OR up-to-date?3) Giving: Is it abundantly clear that "Family Gives First"? We are not just talking about ourvolunteer board members; staff must contribute and that should be clear (the amount for staffgiving is less important than the simple act of giving any amount). 100% participation - Right?Right! )4) Recruitment Practices: Is the Board diverse, representing all aspects of the organization:Legal, Finance, Community Volunteer (with a strong social network), Members Representingthe Mission, and Money Managers.5) Board Meeting Inclusion: Are board meetings open to staff members? If not, open the door.While it is appropriate to have a portion of the meeting "closed" as an Executive Session; butthen open the doors to those on the front line, your staff.6) Relentlessly communicate the same vision, values and mission. Whether you ask the personvacuuming the floor or the President of the Board, "What is this place? What do you do?", allwill respond will the same answer. Everyone understands why they are there and they arePROUD7) Provide multiple opportunities for staff input8) Issue staff progress reports and successes regularly9) Create a culture of openness, you are a family10) Be present – both physically and emotionally
    • 11) Motivate, energize, and reward staffquickly for positive results in moving forward12) Gather Board and Staff together wheneverpossible, eliminate division and unite yourfamilyIf the above practices are put into place as part of the "Fundraising Recovery Plan" you will havethe Board and Staff aligned and working together with joy and a renewed sense of enthusiasm.For those who do not "get it"; they must be cycled off the board or if staff, they must be let go. seJust as Enthusiasm Breeds Enthusiasm. Poison Containments the Well. And that Well is money.What can you expect when Board and Staff are aligned?! Your resources (fundraising) will grow! Your Brand and Name Recognition is Amplified! Synergy equals sustainability and growth! Energy is spent on creating a fun environment rather than conflict resolution! It offers credibility to new board members and revitalizes current board members as they understand they are a part of the organizations family.! It gives you a structure and system to foresee and better manage discontent before ure escalation Once you bring the team together (each with a designated role) working alongside you to implement the plan to jump-start fundraising, your byproduct is the group working together. As your Board and Staff watch the plan work, with funds flowing in not out, moral increases and bad feelings wane.