Awkward Conversations with Board Members

I just got back from a conference in Boston for  The attendees represented a variety of industries such as banking, insurance, software and consulting services, but what all attendees had in common was their desire to listen and learn about Customer Advisory Boards.  A topic that came up several times throughout the conference was how to handle awkward conversations with your Advisory Board members. 

walk the plankQuestion #1:  How do I handle retirement from our CAB gracefully?

Prepare for this ahead of time in the following ways…

When preparing the Charter for your Advisory Board include details around the membership commitment for your board.  When setting up a new CAB, assigning membership based on a staggered 12 – 36 month term will keep the discussions fresh and provide new perspectives to the current board.  With everything clearly stated up-front in the Charter the conversation about retiring should not be uncomfortable or unexpected.

Another way to tackle the awkwardness of asking a board member to retire is celebrate their contributions publically at their last meeting and to establish an alumni group.  The retiring board member will still feel that they are providing the insight and perspectives they were used to discussing at the board meetings, but in a new way.  They can gather at key industry events or even be included in future sub-committees, etc.

Remember, the awkwardness you feel in having the conversation with your board member might be mutual.  Stay tuned for my next 3 part blog series: How to Gracefully Remove Customer Advisory Board Members.

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