~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism
are volunteers, too!
Look here for infomation
and the latest techniques to develop your board or committee.
The purpose is to help those who work or serve on nonprofit boards
of directors or committees.
- Are You Enhancing or Impeding
Progress at Your Meetings?
You Enhancing or Impeding Progress at Your Meetings?
Each board or committee member has the responsibility to make
the meeting meaningful for all. They believe in collaboration,
democratic process and collective wisdom. The following are ways
to be helpful.
Ways to Help Groups
- Consensus testing: "It seems to me we all agree about..."
- Contributing: Board and
committee members should contribute their ideas; better to say
it than to wish later that you had.
- Encouraging: "That
was a good idea."
- Expanding: Don't repeat
what has already been said. If there is something that needs
to be added, add it.
- Expressing one's own feelings about
an idea: not "That is dumb," but "That
approach makes me uneasy."
- Information: Giving facts
and figures that are needed.
Too often members are thinking about what they are going
to say rather than listening to what is being said.
- Mission reminding: "Does
this fulfill our mission, our goals?" (Otherwise known as
"keeping an eye on the ball.")
This is important for the chair to do, but individual
board or committee members can be helpful in trying to pull a
wide-ranging discussion together.
Ways to Impede Groups
Good board and committee members avoid the following:
From: The Board Member's Guide, Jeanne H. Bradner,
Conversation Press, 1999
- Dominating: Even though
you may be an expert on an issue, let someone else have a chance
to contribute. You may learn something!
- False self-deprecation:
"Well, I may not know all the answers; but..." Who
in the room has all the answers? And does this imply that anyone
who disagrees is asserting that he or she does have all the answers?
Under this goes, the "Well, I'm just a volunteer,"
or "I'm not a professional," and so on.
- Frivolity: A good joke
or "bon mot" at the right time is wonderful and can
frequently ease the tension when emotions are high or simply
add to the pleasant dynamic of the board; but someone who jokes
all the time isn't taking the meeting or his or her responsibilities
What is good for my neighborhood or my program is good
for everyone." Maybe "yes," maybe "no."
What has been done may, indeed, be good for a particular place
or group, but it needs to be put in context for the unit we are
- Personal Attacks: Attack
the problem, not the person.
- Self-righteousness: "Well,
I'm just trying to be fair"... implying that he or she is
the only fair-minded person in the room.
- Stubbornness: "I
don't think you heard what I said; so I'll say it again, but
"Uncle Harry" Stories: Interpreting an entire issue
in the light of what happened to one person at one time.
Jeanne H. Bradner
Jeanne H. Bradner
is an author, consultant,
trainer and speaker on volunteerism, board development and leadership.
She is the author of three publications, Passionate Volunteerism,
The Board Member's Guide, A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading
Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today. She
served as director of the Illinois Governor's Office of Voluntary
Action, Midwest Regional Director of ACTION, and Executive Director
of the Illinois Commission on Community Service. She is the volunteer
program specialist for Illinois' Harper College Volunteer Management
Send your comments and
questions to Jeannebrad@aol.com
by Nancy Macduff.
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