Starting a Board Manual

What do you do if your client does not have a manual of procedures for the Board of Directors? The easy answer is that you start one.

Actually, it is not the responsibility of the parliamentarian to write such a document. However, having one makes the job of the parliamentarian easier as it gives one document to refer to when there is an issue. But how do you start to do this.

First, mention to the Board that they need such a document and give them ample chances to start to do the work. If they do not do anything, ask if you can start to work on the idea. Usually, they will be glad to let you do that.

Having gotten permission (or if you are desperate, even if you don’t have permission), get a basic outline in your mind. The basic outline I used was:

1. Directors

2. Officers

2.a. President

2.b. Immediate Past President (etc.)

3. Board Meetings

With this outline, I went through first the Articles of Association (the Charter) and then the Bylaws. When a clause fit in one of the categories, I copied that clause into the document and put an exact reference to it at the end of the entry. By doing this, I established a document where an officer could easily find what the official duties and responsibilities where for each office.

Once finished, I sent a copy to the President asking his authorization to send it to the other members of the Board.

Election woes

Elections can be very trying for any organization. Even if only one candidate is running for an office, there will be people who view themselves as losers. I remember that when Kennedy ran against Nixon, Ohio went for Nixon. One resident that I delivered newspapers to told me that he would not vote again as his candidate lost. When I asked him which one he voted for, he said Kennedy. He explained that his vote meant nothing as Ohio went for Nixon. I told him that he did have a winning candidate and he added to the national total. He found that to be not good enough.

This sort of discontent is dangerous in that it has a win-or-nothing mentality attached to. There is no room for compromise nor for the influence of the minority. I find this nowadays in the way people view the results of the 2008 election — Obama won so that is the only opinion that needs to be considered. It is so dangerous.

I remember reading many a year ago (don’t ask me where as I can’t remember) that Lyndon Johnson was successful in the Senate not because the Democrats had a majority but because he knew to compromise and work with Dirkson who was the leader of the Republicans. He kept the Democrats agenda going but he did not overlook the opposition.

I really believe that the same needs to occur in any election results to have a strong organization — one side leads but does not dominate absolutely.

At the same time, the side that lost must be willing to work with the winners accepting the concept that the others are the leaders and many of the losing side’s plans need to be put on hold or moderated to an acceptable level.

I know that many people are opposed to the constant compromise of politics, but, when used well, compromise leads to a better organization for all the members.