Difficult members of a board could pose a major threat to the efficiency and cohesion of the board. It may be tempting to ignore the problem in hopes that the person will alter their behavior or leave when their term ends however this is not the most effective approach. It’s more likely that this behaviour will persist, and then become more evident. This will have a negative impact on the rest of the board members, making it difficult for them to carry out their responsibilities.
Direct intervention is one way to directly confront difficult board members. Begin by inviting them to a one-on-one discussion with the chair, or a person they hold with respect and listen to, to explain the reasons behind their behavior. Try to gain an understanding of the reason behind their behavior, like a feeling that they are not respected or valued by the other board members. It is also crucial to keep a clear end goal in mind, such as their behaviour needing to change so that the conversation doesn’t become a heated argument or a conflict.
If the offender is not taken to task in an individual discussion, it is often helpful to bring the issue to the attention of the other board members in a group intervention. This is an excellent opportunity for the chair to show that they value all input and that they are not afraid to confront those who exhibit difficult behaviors. It is also important to record the comments made so that you can update people on any new information when you return to them.