8 Signs Your Board of Directors is Dysfunctional

by admin on January 21, 2010

in Board of Directors

Dysfunctional Boards

The productivity of a Board of Directors will change from year to year due to several factors including owner talent, owner availability, association needs and special projects.  Some Boards work well together, are constructive, are selfless and accomplish a lot for their community.  They will encourage others to get involved and attend meetings.  While other Boards will get mired in disagreements and nothing really much gets completed throughout the year as personalities and objectives clash.  If the latter sounds like your association, here are 8 signs that your Board of Directors is dysfunctional and probably not much is being accomplished for the betterment of your association:  

1.         Different Objectives for Being on the Board

People have chosen to be on the Board for reasons other than doing what is best for the association.  The reasons for them to serve on the Board may be because they have hidden agendas, want special projects accomplished just for their benefit or have psychological needs that can be achieved through the group dynamics of the Board.  Whatever the reason is for serving, the association’s ongoing operations and overall long term benefit will be secondary and the association will not be served well.  

2.         Board Members and Professionals are Second Guessed

Board members, committee members, staff and other professionals are being humiliated (either overtly or subtly) for whatever their accomplishments and input might be.  Instead of being encouraged and lauded for their roles, they are being criticized and second guessed.

3.         There is an Antagonistic Atmosphere

There is an antagonistic atmosphere that prevails in meetings, in most official interactions and in most other dealings for the association.  It is a feeling that no matter what you say or do will be wrong and will not be appreciated.  This will also apply and happen to any owner who wants to provide their input as well.

4.         Overstepping Board of Director Roles

An individual not adhering to their role or overstepping their duty is another symptom of a dysfunctional Board of Directors.  Besides being second guessed, this is another form of “since you don’t know what you are doing…I will do it for you”.  Or individuals on the Board will assume the position of supervisor and liaison to staff or other professionals, when this is clearly not their function.  It is confusing to everyone when this happens and is the source of most conflict in associations.  Overall, it is a breakdown of the roles and responsibilities of the Board.

5.         Disagreeing on Priorities and Objectives for the Board

The source of this dynamic goes back to “hidden agendas” as there are reasons for being a Board member other than the overall “what is good for our association”.  No matter what the Board has decided to do, it will have the wrong priority and there are other more important things that should be done and “everyone” will hear about it, too!

6.         Not Listening to Others or Eliciting Their Input

This is another form of “you don’t know what you are doing” or “I know better than you”.  This just puts people down subtly and through a form of intimidation in hopes to squelch anyone’s ideas that may disagree with this person.  Staff and other professionals will not be consulted and their ideas will not be elicited as they are not worthy or needed.  The diversity of ideas from others is not wanted and this type of thinking usually comes from a “Board Dictator” who will remain, until they are “overthrown”. 

7.         Blaming Others to Elevate Self

This is a sad individual who gets on a Board and blames others so as to elevate themselves.  They are trying to be someone who they really are not, at the expense of others.  We have all encountered people like this and they are not pleasant people to be around.  I suggest as a group to isolate this person and minimize their role on the Board, until they quit.

8.         Shutting Off Any Debate

Shutting off debate is akin to #6 in that your ideas are not wanted or needed.  This is not the way to run a Board of Directors and is another form of intimidation that is used.  It will finally get to the point where people will not want to contribute or attend any meetings if their ideas and contributions will not be heard.  Why bother being a part of a group if they are not allowed to contribute? 

Anyone who has lived in a community association has seen at different times individuals with some or all of these characteristics and personality traits on various Boards of Directors.  They can be uncomfortable to be around, they can be divisive and have no idea the way in which a group should function.  Overall, a Board that operates in this manner does not have the association’s long term benefit in mind when they choose to be on the Board of Directors.

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