The Blog

February 3rd, 2016ArticlesGeoffrey Hand 0 Comments

Charity Governance ConsultancyBeing a trustee is tough!  Are you a trustee superstar, or is there a risk that you are a problem trustee?

Your hard work, people skills, and level of commitment are likely to be significant factors in how well your charity thrives, and how vigorously it is able to pursue its mission.

Are you a can-do, self-starting, on time, team player?  Or does your enthusiasm for your charity’s aims sometimes exceed your practical capabilities ?

The pitfalls

These are well-known to be the eight top ‘trustee problems’:

  1. Trustees being passive or uninvolved
  2. Trustees coming to meetings unprepared
  3. Trustees not attending meetings
  4. Trustees being too dominant
  5. An ineffective chair
  6. A difficult trustee
  7. A trustee who does not want to retire
  8. A trustee who fails to manage conflicts of interest

Do any of these sound uncomfortably familiar?  Or maybe you think you will be the perfect trustee.

Good Trustee / Bad Trustee – The Quiz! will reveal your trustee standing.

Knock on impact

If you, or a fellow trustee, is looking like a ‘bad trustee’, this can end up affecting the function of your whole trustee board.

Poor decision making, inaction and demotivation among other trustees and key charity staff can slowly chip away at your charity’s effectiveness.

Having a problem trustee in the team can seem like an insurmountable problem.  And it’s true that at the extreme, mediation and other interventions can be an option.

Solving the problem

Generally though, I’m happy to say that improving the situation may be easier than you’d think.

Nobody joins a charity board in order to become a problem trustee.  Just about every charity trustee I’ve ever met has been well-meaning and totally supportive of their charity’s aims.

The root of ‘problem trustee’ issues is likely to lie with skills and awareness, rather than motivations or intentions.

Training & governance

A trustee workshop can help to educate and empower the whole team, clarifying everyone’s roles, responsibilities and obligations.  Or some one-to-one coaching can help build individual performances.

At the governance level, a feeling of dysfunction in the board can be a positive opportunity to look at how it operates and potentially revise what the charity’s governing document has to say about many things including the length of trustee appointments and any mandatory retirement timetable.

Do get in touch if you think you or your fellow trustees could do with some help.

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Geoffrey Hand

Geoffrey Hand is a charity governance consultant, offering governance consultancy and training. He also provides legal services management, helping charities get better value for money from their lawyers. Geoffrey has extensive experience in the charity and legal worlds, and his mission is to help charities deliver good governance.

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