Dealing with a micromanaging board
Q. I’m a CEO, and I have a board of directors that likes to micromanage. They’re wonderful people, but they’re truly overstepping their bounds. How do I address this issue with them as “my boss?”
A. From your question, I can tell you understand that helping to create and maintain a strong and appropriately utilized board of directors is an important part of any CEO’s job. So important, in fact, that your success and the success of your company may very well depend on your effectiveness in this arena.Most board members serve because they believe in the company and are well-intended and clearly motivated to contribute to the positive outcomes hoped for. But unless they’ve served on an effective board before, there’s no reason to think they fully understand their role or their responsibilities. In fact, many new CEOs are also unclear on board responsibilities.Serving on a board has certainly become more complicated in the past few years. Your question clearly indicates that board training is essential. I would recommend finding a respected outside consultant to do a board effectiveness review and training for you and your board. If you can, have a pre-meeting with your board chair so that he or she understands and supports the cultural changes you’ll be creating together.As the training unfolds, it will soon become clear that the board’s responsibility is to hire a CEO to manage the day-to-day operations. Micromanaging is not their job, and actually keeps them from doing the real work of a board, which is to set policy and do big-picture thinking and leadership.Q. I am aware that one of my colleagues is a finalist for a position with a competing company. No one else knows. Am I under any obligation to tell her supervisor, and even if I’m not, should I? We’re a small company and the loss of this person will have a tremendous impact on all of us.A. I would begin by putting yourself in your colleague’s place. And if that’s not enough for you to answer your own questions, let me offer a few more observations.Being loyal to your company does not require you or anyone else to be disloyal to yourself. Company loyalty is high on my list of positive attributes, but focusing on one’s career development is not being disloyal. It’s not only appropriate to take responsibility for your career, if you don’t, who’s going to?Your co-worker is not doing anything wrong, and this is a perfect time for you to practice the mantra “silence is golden.”Q. As an individual, I believe strongly in being as “green” as possible. I’ve tried to begin a recycling program at my company myself, but without company support, it failed miserably. I’m feeling defeated. Should I just give up and focus on green practices in my life outside work?A. Who said, “Never, ever give up?” Hang in there and find a way to inform and educate your co-workers in new ways that are more likely to be heard.One of the key “Begin with Yes” principles is taking very small steps, and taking them one at a time. My suggestion is to focus on being “greener” rather than becoming “green” overnight.Is there anyone else in the company that feels the same way that you do? Would they be willing to help? Are there some easy first steps that your co-workers could take? Can you think of a few ways to make becoming green fun?And as you find ways to make these small steps happen, remember the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”Paul Boynton, president and chief executive of Moore Center Services, Manchester, is also a motivational speaker, host of the television show, “Begin with Yes” and author of the book by the same name. He can be reached at email@example.com.