Dealing With Difficult Board Directors

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October 23, 2023

Board members who are difficult to work with can pose a major challenge to cohesiveness and effectiveness of the board. It may be tempting to ignore the issue hoping that the person will alter their ways or leave the board after their term ends but that isn’t the most effective approach. It is more likely that the behavior will continue and become more evident, affecting the rest of the team which makes it difficult for them to perform their duties efficiently.

Direct intervention is one method to confront difficult board members. Begin by inviting the person to a one-on-1 meeting with either the chair or someone they regard in high regard and will be willing to listen to, in order to explain the problems with their behaviour. Determine what is behind the behavior, for instance a feeling of not being valued or listened to by other board members. It is also essential to keep a clear end goal in mind, for instance their behaviour needing to change, so that the conversation does not turn into an argument or conflict.

If the offender is not confronted in an individual discussion It is often beneficial to bring the issue to the attention of the other board members in a group intervention. This is a great way for the chairperson to show that they appreciate everyone’s input and are not afraid to confront challenging behavior. It is also important to record the comments made to be able to update the group on any new information when you return to them.

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