Ten Ways to Engage Your Board Members - Part 2

intentional practices Apr 02, 2024
Ten Ways to Engage Your Board Members - Part 2


One of the challenges we hear most often from chief executive officers and board chairs is engaging board members so that they feel valued and committed to the advancement of the organization. Here are ten ways (five last week and five more this week) that boards have been successful in engaging their members and moving forward. Keep in mind that engaged members make for a much more effective board and a much more productive organization.


Here are the five from last week:

1. Connect Mission and Values.

2. Provide Effective Orientation and Onboarding.

3. Clarify Expectations.

4. Offer Opportunities to Grow and Lead.

5. Assign Committee Work.


And here are five more.


6. Structure the Agenda.

Your agenda should have three primary areas. One for information only -- this might be the consent agenda.  One clearly marked for decision-making. And one for exploration only (no decisions, no rush to judgment). Some have labelled this hindsight, foresight and insight.

Allow board members to explore a specific topic and give their viewpoints, experiences and perspectives without a decision having to be made.

It should also be possible to structure the agenda so that there are some small group discussions before a decision is made or during an exploration. Members can then engage with each other in a deeper and more personal way than simply talking across a large board table.

Provide time for team building and socializing (perhaps over supper prior to a meeting). Time for a Q&A. Invite guest speakers or presenters, and have workshops.


7. Foster Personal Connections.

Social and personal interaction is important for people to feel a sense of belonging and importance. It's important that the chair and the executive director take opportunities to meet with individual board members, hear their concerns and aspirations and find ways to ensure that their unique considerations are taken into account. Check in with them, learn more about each member. Understand their issues and concerns, and their motivation for showing up and making a contribution, or not.


8. Express Appreciation.

We often forget to thank board members, privately and publicly, for their contributions. Send cards. Establish board awards. Mention them in newsletters and annual reports. Thank them at meetings.

Share this article with your friends and colleagues!



9. Provided Unique Experiences.

Board members are rarely invited to participate in experiences that might be unique to their background and skill set or simply to involve them. Examples include observing a staff or senior management meeting, attending a program or workshop relevant to their background and interest, a behind-the-scenes tour, a meet-and-greet with key staff, or a special event. These can lead to a deeper connection with and appreciation for the organization.


10. Conduct Self-assessments.

Make sure that in addition to an annual board assessment and review, there is an opportunity for board members to undergo a self-assessment and review of their own contributions. This is a helpful reminder of what is expected of them, as it covers their role and responsibilities, and the importance of making a contribution. Depending on your approach and process, it can also lead to useful conversations between the chair and individual board members.


These are some ideas for board engagement. What have you done? What could be done? What works for you? What did not work so well?


This is a common issue and theme. I look forward to hearing your ideas. What are your main “pain points” dealing with board engagement?

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.




Stick With It!

Online Board Improvement Programs with Ken Haycock


The Board Member 101:

Your accelerated path to competence and confidence.

In this one-month course, you will move from feeling reticent and tentative to competent and confident, asking good questions and making great contributions. The course complements and reinforces your on-site orientation and opens new channels of communication and discussion. Four weeks. Two brief video lessons (watch at your convenience) per week plus downloadable handouts. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Register Now.




The Board Leader Academy:

A step-by-step guide to higher performance and impact.

Our spotlight course is designed for CEOs/Executive Directors, Board Chairs, and those who are interested in leadership positions on not-for-profit, for-impact boards. Six weeks. Three brief video lessons with handouts per week (watch at your convenience) plus additional downloadable resources. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Register now.






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.

Share this post:

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team. 

Don't worry, your information will not be shared or sold for any reason.