How to Deal with a micromanaging board by Marilyn Gardner Lawyer

How to Deal with a Micromanaging Board

Most companies and nonprofits would like to have a more hands-off board, but more often than not, boards tend to micromanage.  These are board members who show up to their first board meeting before doing anything of substance for the organization and talk about revamping everything.  While sometimes these activities add value, they can often distract from the bigger issues at hand.  Often times, board members micromanage because they don’t know how else they can add value.  If you want to point a micromanaging board member in the right direction, then you’ll have to teach them.  Here are a few suggestions, based off a blog post I found on a charity lawyer site.  These are more geared towards nonprofits, but they can be used for just about any board:

  • Engage the board in talks about how they can evaluate the reputation and name of an organization, opening doors that might otherwise be closed.
  • Build agendas focusing on the big picture: mission, values, success and how they can measure progress toward their goals.
  • Provide a financial dashboard making it easy for board members to track financial progress
  • Implement an annual budget and authority policy to give the Chief Executive clear direction.  This will minimize the number of times the Chief Executive feels compelled to ask the board for permission before doing something.
  • Create a board action calendar of compliance and governance due dates.
  • Clarify roles and divide responsibility for such activities as book-keeping, check-signing and bank statements.

If the board is still concerned, then try addressing their fears about liability.  Educate them on the various risk management protections the organization has in place.  Maybe bring in a consultant to provide board training, and try to refocus the board on their key duties, or add a more experienced board member to set an example.  But maybe most importantly, the Chief Executive should take stock of the company’s performance and consider what further steps can be taken to re-establish confidence and trust to avoid micromanagement.


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