For any person that is or was sitting on a governing body of a government, a business, or a non-profit entity, let me ask you a simple question – does your board, council, commission, or other type act like its managing the needs of your entity and addressing the issues that you are facing now or in the future or is it acting like high school students in various cliques (name calling, who doesn’t like who, focused on superficial issues, etc.)?
I’ve been on our Council for about four years and sometimes I sit back amazed at some of the issues that are brought before us to act on or on matters that our own members bring up looking for action. It seems to be a 1-to-1 ratio that I’ve experienced – with legitimate matters on health, safety, and welfare of our community coming up at the same rate as issues that should never reach such a public spectacle. Let me give you some examples which some of you may have witnessed in your own bodies:
- Name-Calling: One member accuses another member of the governing body of trying to destroy him/her and that the person needs to be stopped (no evidence, just verbal accusations at a public meeting);
- I’m Not Working with Them: A member tells the rest of the Board that he/she won’t work with another member because they are equals on the governing body and doesn’t have to take directions/advice from another or they feel another person doesn’t have same education/experience to make a contribution to a discussion;
- Becoming Gun-Shy: Matters of community (or shareholder) interest are continually tabled because no one wants to be blamed if a decision goes wrong so instead everyone approves easy items and feels that the governing body is effective;
- We Know Better Than Everyone Else: The times when a member either doesn’t want to wait to follow protocols or doesn’t like a decision made by subordinate leadership so they believe that the governing body should take its own action in matter based on what they say (usually there is a personal or professional relationship involved)
So what do you do? I’m been fortunate to being serving a body where a majority want to follow established policies/laws or aren’t afraid from making decisions for the benefit of our community regardless of it may play out in the next election. But there are still some members who are insist on playing these games and even if you with a strong governing body, it still takes time away from what you should be doing (and to be honest it gets really tiring and exhausting having to continually address these members).
I wish I could say I got the perfect solution or here is the good way to prevent it because even after repeated talks and interventions (and even discussion on removal) with these people that they need to follow proper protocol or they we all need to work together to move our community forward, it seems to goes in one ear and out the other. For now, we just move forward and try to handle these situations in a calm and reasonable manner and try not to let it interfere in governing and managing. Just remember, though, that nothing makes your entity look worse to people/investors then a governing body that can’t handle their own issues and is mired in juvenile behaviors.
I know that this type of situation probably isn’t unique or uncommon so hopefully there someone out there has experience and addressed this in an effective manner.