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They are volunteers, too!
Look here for information 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.

~ November 2005 ~ Topics

What Causes Boards to Micromanage Staff?

Board and Staff need to be partners. The board determines the ends the organization should achieve and staff, managed by the executive director, implement the means. The board tracks regularly how well things are going, makes adjustments and evaluates the ED on his/her performance.

However, staff members frequently complain that certain board members are micromanaging the work - correcting them, taking huge amounts of their time and, well, basically showing a lack of trust.

How does this happen? There are many reasons, including but not limited to:

    • Board members aren't concentrating on ends and instead focus on process.
    • Board members are fearful because they know they are responsible legally for the organization. They want to provide oversight and one person's definition of oversight may be considered micromangement by another.
    • Board members don't look at the bigger picture and articulate policies that guide the staff to conduct operations legally and ethically.
    • The organization does not have good personnel policies and job descriptions.

Board members need to attend meetings, review financial reports, make sure governmental reports are filed, receive no financial gain from the organization, make sure the organization is faithful to its mission, and behave as a prudent person would when making board decisions.

It's not an easy job, but micromanaging staff can result in a dysfunctional organization where board and staff no longer work together as a team and valuable time is wasted as priorities are ignored.

Next Month: How to avoid micromanaging.

Other good sources for information on nonprofits, boards and committees:

Jeanne Bradner can be reached at Jeannebrad@aol.com.

See our online bookstore for Jeanne Bradner's book on boards: The Board Member’s Guide: A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today, and Passionate Volunteerism.
Board Member's Guide Image Leading Volunteers Book Image Passionate Volunteerism Book link to bookstore

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, The Board Member's Guide, A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today and Passionate Volunteerism. 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 curriculum.

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