Board members come and go – sometimes we don’t mind, sometimes we’re really bummed out. Regardless of how you feel about it, there’s opportunity lurking within exit interviews.
When you engage them in a final feedback loop, you will:
* Continue to engage them and strengthen the relationship
* Avoid any awkwardness by having an open discussion
* Leave the door open for continued involvement
* Take steps to improve the board experience for others going forward
You owe it to your volunteers to honor their service, regardless of tenure, and the exit interview is one step in the process. I recommend assigning this to a member of your Board Development Committee to manage the process throughout the year. Be sure it’s a person who will take the time to meet with the outgoing member in person to get the best results via a sincere conversation.
The goal of speaking with a board member who is leaving your board, regardless of the reason (term limits, moving away, dissatisfied, can no longer meet expectations, simply moving on to other interests, etc.), is to learn as much as you can from them about their experience.
Below are 4 questions I feel are required for board exit interviews.
Be sure to ask follow up, open-ended questions to clarify or dig deeper where necessary.
1. How have you enjoyed your board experience (set the tone by getting them to focus on the positive stuff first)?
Follow up questions can include:
> Why was that meaningful to you?
> What else did you appreciate?
And if there are certain things you’re wondering about, that don’t get mentioned, ask about them specifically.
2. What might have improved your experience (Be quiet and listen! Reflect back what you think you heard to be sure you aren’t assuming anything)?
Follow up questions can include:
> How would you describe your relationship with staff/other board members?
> How effectively did your committee meet their objectives?
> What can we do to best equip new board members to be successful?
3. How will you stay connected to the organization?
Follow up discussion:
> If they aren’t sure how they can stay involved, provide examples such as committee work, event planning or participation, donate, advisory roles, etc. to explore their level of interest
4. Who else do you think might be interested in knowing more about our organization? THIS IS THE BONUS QUESTION!!! Not only is this an ongoing engagement strategy for valuable members who are leaving, but it can result in expanding your supporters and ambassadors.
Follow up questions could be:
> Would you be willing to make an introduction?
> What do you think they would be most interested in?
> Where else are they involved in the community?
NEXT: Be sure to track the responses to these questions and compile them over time so you can identify trends that point to various strengths and gaps members’ satisfaction.
You’ll want to institutionalize this practice for continuous learning.
And capture the names of anyone they referenced as potentially being interested in your cause! Get introduced and outline a simple strategy to stay connected based on what you learned.
Remember – even though a board member may be stepping away from the board, their influence doesn’t have to end!
Are you struggling with a “problem board member?” Let’s schedule a call and outline a few tips to get you through the drama.