It’s easy in any organization for people at the top, managers or board members, for example, to congregate together, very often to discuss common concerns.
This might help in solving problems, but it can also create problems when those in the know insulate themselves from the general membership, people who might very well benefit from knowing.
Susan J. Ellis, president of the training, publishing and consulting firm Energize, suggests that board members stay in touch with members, both by asking “How will this affect the average member?” about board decisions and making occasional phone calls to members.
At special gatherings, however, conferences, annual meetings or events, Ellis has several suggestions for ways by which board members can stay in touch with the membership and keep members informed of what is going on.
* Limit the number of back-room meetings during association conferences. For one thing, members might perceive this as a way of avoiding them, and for another members who are kept in private meetings cannot be talking to members at the same time.
* Never allow the board to sit together at any general membership event. Insist that board members scatter to different tables, attend a range of concurrent workshops and even sit randomly throughout the hall during a plenary session.
* Make sure board members are identifiable. Provide special name tags, color codes or ribbons. This gives the average member a fighting chance to recognize and talk to them.