Governance: Yes, it can be interesting!

Sandi Ayres,
OMG OBC Center Manager

In a previous life I spent my days and nights studying “Robert’s Rules of Order” to prepare for the board and membership meetings of the trade organizations for which I worked in Washington, D.C.

There’s nothing quite like a little parliamentary procedure to go with your morning coffee. Yes, please!

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books and videos on this topic, so covering everything about “Robert’s Rules” within the limitations of a blog is not going to happen. Instead, the purpose here is to share a few timesaving tips.

Do you know your organization’s bylaws? If not, spend an hour and read them. I mean, really read them. Don’t skim. Knowing and understanding the bylaws will help tremendously during meetings and will cut down on the time required to look up things. In the event someone needs to refresh their memory, be sure that there is an easily-accessible current set of bylaws at every board meeting.

When creating the meeting’s agenda, make it clear that all items for discussion and action must go on the agenda. Ask for the action items a few days in advance of the meeting. This allows the chairperson to keep the meeting on task and on time. Surprise or unplanned action items will always result in longer and inefficient meetings.

“If there is no objection …” Now that’s a time saver! If it has been established that there is no objection to a motion and a quorum is present, the chairperson can use unanimous consent. The chairperson can ask if there is any objection; silence represents consent. The chairperson then simply says, “If there is no objection the motion to {insert language here} is adopted.” No second required. This typically applies to routine business such as approval of minutes or adjustments in the order of the agenda. It also is commonly used for amendments to motions.

It’s important to hear all sides of every agenda item. Please refrain from saying, or worse, shouting, “Call for the question.”

It is the duty of all board members to ensure their opinions are shared, even if it goes against the majority. It is the responsibility of the chairperson to set speaking limits and to keep the meeting on track. Interrupting someone is frustrating and can add quite a bit of time to a meeting.

Remember, be kind to each other. You’re all in it together, and your goals for a successful organization are shared.

For more information, check out this interesting series on “Robert’s Rules of Order” at YouTube.