- Ask questions about the idea, request, directive. What's the objective? Who should be involved? What's your timeline? etc., so he or she understands I'm listening to his or her idea, not just dismissing it.
- Determine strategic fit Determine how he/she feels the idea, request, directive fits into the strategic plan. Get him/her to flush out the idea, perhaps he/she will realize it's not on mission -- or you'll realize it is.
- Refer to the budget If the idea, request, directive isn't included in the budget, that's a stop sign many board members are willing to accept. Depending on the situation, give him/her a brief cost analysis, including staff time and opportunity cost.
- Present it as an either/or an option If they are insistent despite the budget argument, present them with a counter-weighted option: What are you willing to give up to devote resources to this idea, request, directive?
- Revisit the idea Offer to revisit the idea when the strategic plan and/or budget are up for review.
Friday, May 15, 2009
A recent listserve query got me thinking about a topic: How to say no to a volunteer leader without offending his or her sensibilities. Saying no to a volunteer is tough because many board members are not used to hearing "no." Often board members are senior-level leaders who are used to issuing directives to agreeable subordinates. But resources, particularly staff time and money, are finite. And in this economic climate, associations cannot afford to devote resources to issues, requests, directives from an individual without support of the board of directors. Without giving up too many trade secrets, here's my process for dealing with the situation:
Tags: Association Management