members who don't participate can be very difficult. They
don't speak up; they don't volunteer to do specific jobs;
they don't communicate ideas or concerns to the board chair
or executive director.
chair wonders do they not get it: are they bored, are they
intimidated or are they critical of what's going on and complaining
to friends and relatives outside the organization?
your board has someone (or more than one) like this, ask yourself
the following questions before you decide the silent board member(s)
shouldn't be asked to serve again:
we have an adequate board orientation? Does this person
really know what the job of a board member is?
we ask non-participants for an opinion occasionally to make
a deliberate attempt at inclusion?
we favor opinionated board members and give them too much
time to talk so that they scare off the non-participant?
there an adversarial climate rather than a "problem
solving" attitude at the board meeting that is competitive
rather than mission focused?
we offer opportunities, so that board members can socialize?
we conducted a written board assessment to solicit board
members' opinions on the operation of the board?
the non-participant really is "at sea;" is in awe
of the other board members who seem so well informed; or is
fearful of speaking before a group. Try to draw the non-participant
out and compliment good ideas he/she has. Remember that people
who study human behavior say the two things people fear most
are airplane flights and public speaking!
reminded of something I heard recently: it seems that when
people are in the recovery room after surgery, the first thing
they ask is not, "how am I; was the operation a success?,"
but rather, "did I say anything stupid while I was under
the anesthetic?" This demonstrates that most of us worry
most about making a fool of ourselves. Board chairs must reassure
everyone that all opinions are valued and welcomed (as long
as a board member doesn't monopolize the meeting.)