Retreat From Reality

A board’s tense situation was causing members to speak publicly about their issues.

The Issue

A large not-for-profit had board members threatening to resign. Members were feeling frustrated and unheard and interpersonal conflict had members speaking publicly about board issues. Some were sharing their thoughts on tense situations with senior staff members, which in turn, made both members of the board and the staff uncomfortable. They could not get through their agenda at meetings and even the board chair was contemplating whether they would stay within the organization.

The Methodology

The facilitator held private meetings with the board chair and CEO to better comprehend the issues at hand. The entire board and senior staff were taken on an out-of-province retreat that created both formal and informal opportunities for them to engage on a personal level. A personality-typing tool was used so everyone could better understand themselves and each other. The facilitator created a community where conversation transcended cultural, generational and power differences. The group was also introduced to the Policy Governance Model and participated in sessions on how to operate as a united board.

The Solution

Tensions broke when deep-rooted issues rose to the surface and were discussed for the first time, enabling the group to become higher functioning. They all agreed to review their internal policies and the board agreed on key behaviours the group needed in order to function. The members unanimously agreed that the sessions were useful and in a follow up discussion six months later, the chair of the board reported that things were going much better for the organization.