Manager's Corner: Boards Should Do Board Stuff

Manager's Corner
Boards Should Do Board Stuff

I've heard the same question from three Board Presidents over the past few weeks: So how do we make sure we implement the strategic plan we just completed?
My answer: That's your job as the board president. Make Strategic Plan updates a regular part of your monthly or at least quarterly board meetings. Put it on the agenda; then address it. If you don't track it, monitor it, and coordinate with the CEO and others as appropriate to make sure action is being taken, who will? Your CEO may - or may not. If your strategic plan is not important enough to you to track, why bother to develop one in the first place?
Now, I do believe I know why these board presidents are really asking the question: They don't understand what their job as a board - and specifically - a board president is. Boards of directors are supposed to give direction to the CEO or administrator. The boards are supposed to determine strategy based upon their expertise and ability to see the big picture because -- now pay attention to this part -- they're not wrapped up in the day-to-day management issues of the organization. This is where many boards run into problems. The board president and members are often too involved in the day-to-day management of the organization. Because many organizations have limited or weak management, many boards "get really involved" in the business, and often end up being "doers" and "wannabe managers." They then stumble over themselves and the "real managers" on who's doing what, and they lose sight of what they're supposed to be doing as a board: determining strategy, monitoring and providing direction to the CEO, tracking the financials, and planning for leadership succession. Who has time for that when you're involved with determining vacation schedules with staff?
So what can a board do?
1. Let management do its job. Get out of the way. Stay out of the day-to-day management issues.
2. Find stronger managers/leaders if necessary who are capable of handling the details so you can focus on board issues.
3. Remember, the management team works for you - you don't work for them. If you're doing things the managers should be doing, become aware of it, make them aware of it, and start doing your respective jobs.
Boards should do board stuff. Managers should do management stuff. It tends to work better that way.

Copyright 2008 - Liz Weber, CMC - Weber Business Services, LLC.