When faced with the difficult task of removing a Board member that has failed to live up to their commitment, don’t take it personally. All you need to do is perform an objective review of a member’s attendance at each meeting and their participation in the in between meeting activities. If the availability of a board member is not meeting your expectations revert back to your Charter.
The Charter includes details about the membership commitment for your board; assigning membership based on a staggered 12 – 36 month term will allow you to roll a member off of the board after only two meetings. The charter should also clearly state the number of meetings each member is expected to attend each year and the way in which absences are handled. When a member signs their commitment form for the board, they are signifying that they are aware of the time commitment and the expectations set for board meeting attendance.
When a board member has not been meeting attendance requirements, give them the benefit of the doubt; ask the member directly what the reason is for their absence. If the reason provided is valid and they are a contributor during board activities, it is my recommendation to put their board membership on hold and invite them to return to the board when their current obligations allow them adequate time to participate actively on the board. If the reason for an absence clearly states the member’s unwillingness to participate, it is time to respectfully tell the member thank you for their contributions but your time on the board has come to an end.
Don’t forget that your first line of defense when removing a Board member is the Advisory Board Charter. The charter was created for a reason, so referencing the charter during each Board meeting will continue to reinforce the importance of the document and the commitment made by each member to your Board. The contributions made by members will be discussed in How to Gracefully Remove Customer Advisory Board Members – Part 3 of 3. I will provide some recommendations on how to leverage your Customer Advisory Board charter to remove a board member based on the contributions they provide to the Board.