Fire a Board Member? Deselection? Transitioning Off?

board development and revitalization Oct 31, 2023
Fire A Board Member? Deselection? Transitioning Off?


Everyone wants, or at least says they want, the right board members (from your matrix), in the right seats (roles), on the right bus (fit), heading in the right direction (mission accomplished).


Recruiting the right people is a key component.


But we all make mistakes. Sometimes we are so grateful for a volunteer that we avoid due diligence. Sometimes we know the individual, but not in an organizational context. Sometimes, we don’t get to choose the new board member, but an appointment is made by a third party, like a municipal council. And sometimes, we don’t engage board members and develop a commitment to our mission.

We need committed and engaged board members who are curious, who are not shy about asking questions, who can debate without rancour and who think creatively and independently.


We want to move forward, to make positive change.

But, yes, sometimes we do make mistakes.

So how do we correct them?


We are getting better about undertaking annual reviews of board performance based on individual opinion. We are less well-versed in undertaking an annual review of individual member performance, whether by self-reporting, by peers or by the chair.

And odd as it seems, we find it easier to fire a poorly performing Chief Executive Officer or Executive Director than a poorly performing board member. Odd as it seems, we can fire a highly-paid executive more easily than a community volunteer.


So we need a robust recruitment process.

A clear selection process aligned with our mission and current needs. And references! We need to take this vetting process seriously.


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And an onboarding and orientation process that begins before selection, to ensure knowledge of commitment, expectations and performance.

Provide opportunities for engagement and contribution beyond the board table.

And a regular review process and suggestions to improve.


And then?

Well, once again, it falls to the Chair.

An underperforming director threatens the board’s effectiveness and other directors.

The Board Chair, not the CEO, needs to act.


What is your policy regarding performance reviews and “terminations” by the Chair? What are the criteria? What is the process?

Everyone needs to be given the opportunity to improve based on clear criteria and assessments. Everyone also deserves the right to walk away if they choose to take that route.

But you cannot operate with directors not pulling their weight or worse, pulling everyone else down. How have you handled these situations? How will you do so in the future?


What are your main “pain points” dealing with board member assessment?

What advice would be most helpful to you?
And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!


Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.




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P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email.

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