Advice for chairpersons and board

By Melissa Feder, Chapel Hill Jaycees

What it means to be a Board member

  • Be professional in how you treat people. You are no longer Joe Jaycee. Your actions reflect on the chapter, and guests/new-members/non-members will take your actions as representative of us as an organization.
  • Treat non-Jaycees with care. You may only be here 1,2,3,4 years, but your actions may affect the chapter’s relationship with a business for years to come (or ruin one that has existed for years).
  • Talk to the past board members in your position, from in your chapter and other chapters. You may learn a lot about what worked and what didn’t work. That doesn’t mean you can’t try something again, but with their knowledge, you may be able to make the event a raving success! Make sure your chair people do the same thing.
  • Remember there are 12 months in the year…pace yourself.
  • You are moving up the Leadership/Management chain. Generally this means you are transitioning from worker-bee to helper-of-worker-bees. The hardest thing to do is to start letting go of doing things yourself (which you are probably all very good at), and instead helping others to do them. Even more frustrating is to let those other people do them, and see them done less well than you think you could have done. But that is part of their growth process.

During Board Meetings

  • Always be considerate, respectful, and supportive of your fellow Board members.
  • Save yourself (and others) a LOT of time, by not “springing” surprise issues at a Board meeting. Give people warning of the issue, and as much info as you can via an email. This will let people spend time OUTSIDE of the Board meeting to process their thoughts. Otherwise you may waste a lot of time as people during the Board meeting are “thinking out loud”, because they have not had time to think things through.
  • Things to think about before speaking up in a board meeting discussion or debate…
  • Will my comment add useful information or perspective to fellow Board members? Am I about to repeat or rephrase something that has already been said? (don’t beat a dead horse) Is my comment pertinent to helping everyone come to a decision on the current topic in question, or would it be more appropriate to make at another time? (help the meeting stay on track) Have I expressed myself clearly? (e.g., “I think we should vote ‘no’ on this motion for the following specific reason…”. Or, “Before we vote on this, I just wanted to make sure people understood such-and-such fact, since there have been some misconceptions about it.” You may want to write down your comment prior to saying it out loud, so you can be more clear)

During General Membership Meetings

  • Make an effort to talk to all members and introduce yourself to guests. Help make everyone feel like a “part of the group”.
  • Front table etiquette: When you are not paying attention to the chairpersons and other Board members making announcements, others are likely to notice. Show respect to the people making their announcements. Set a good example.
  • Be aware of the agenda topics as they apply to you and be prepared to “fill in” for one of your project chairpersons to give an update, ask for volunteers, or provide a follow-up announcement when the topic comes up. Talk with your project chairpersons beforehand to know if they will be in attendance and know their project status.
  • Publicly recognize others for their ideas and/or contributions.
  • Be supportive and respectful of others.

VPs & Project Chairpersons

  • When you are overwhelmed, or have a problem, speak up. It is easier to head off an upcoming problem than to fix it after the fact. It is also more responsible to admit when you cannot do something vs. letting it go undone.
  • Make sure that anyone doing something for you knows it’s ok to come to you with problems.
  • Someone may resign this year. And that’s ok. Time availability will change. Interest levels will change. And some people simply don’t find Board life to be what they thought it would be. But they may be a fabulous chairperson! Don’t hold it against them; instead, encourage them to go do what they do best.
  • Someone may let you down this year. Be prepared to find a way to let them still be your friend, or step down now.
  • If you think you want to quit, talk about it with the relevant people before stepping aside. You may be able to fix things. Or those people might confirm you desire to quit as the best option. Either way is better than hating what you are doing, and then doing it badly. Your disinterest will be obvious to other members and serve no good purpose.
  • When running a project, always assume you can do more and/or do it better than it was done before, and strive to learn how to improve.
  • Write a thank-you note.

More Tips

  • Remember that everyone is a volunteer. Every minute of their time that they donate is a minute that some project didn’t otherwise have. Be thankful for every minute that someone gives, and remember those minutes are theirs to spend, not yours.
  • Everyone is not perfect, but they are trying to do their best.
  • PRAISE EARLY & OFTEN. Praise costs you nothing, and will mean a lot to someone else.
  • If you notice things that are broken, missing, etc, please take the moment to stop and tell someone.
  • HAVE FUN. If you aren’t, figure out why and try to fix it.
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