Board members who are difficult to work with can pose a major challenge to cohesiveness and effectiveness of the board. It is tempting to ignore the problem in hopes that the person will change their behavior or leave when their term ends, but that is not the best option. It’s more likely that the behavior will continue, and become more prominent. This will have a negative impact on the rest of board members, making it difficult for them to carry out their duties.

Direct intervention is one way to confront difficult board members. Begin by inviting the person to a one-on-one discussion with the chair or someone they regard in high regard and would listen to, and to discuss the issues with their behavior. Find out what drives the behavior, for instance an uneasy feeling of not being appreciated or heard by other board members. It is also essential to have a clear goal in mind, for instance their behavior needs to change so that the conversation doesn’t result in a fight or a conflict.

If the person isn’t taken to task in a one-on-one 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 opportunity for the chairperson to show that they respect the opinions of everyone and are not afraid to confront challenging behavior. In addition, it is important to keep a log of the discussion so that when you circle back around to people you can inform them on any new information you’ve discovered.

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