5 Steps to Refresh & Restore Momentum after a Bad Board Meeting

Regina Pinney
Executive Director

Have you ever had one of those board meetingsthe kind that makes you question if you are the right person for the job, if you have the stamina to continue, or if anyone in the room is on the same page about anything? The kind of meeting that makes you wonder if working at one of those 9-5 for profit jobs is fulfilling?

You knowone of "those" meetings.

I think all Executive Directors experience these meetings.  They have happened to me. Thankfully, they don’t happen frequently, but they create an indelible memory.  

So, what do you do the day after? How do you and your team refresh and recover your momentum?

Here are five steps that can help get you back on track after a
bad board meeting.

Effective Team Meetings in 2022: How to Run a Team Meeting


Step 1: Seek Perspective.

Reach out to a trusted peer. It helps to debrief with a mentor and friend. Feel free to do this over an ice cream sundae, a long walk, or a good meal. Vent, but also listen for the root causes for this bad meeting. Sometimes, reflecting with a peer who can ask good questions will reveal a lesson learned and a potential path forward.  

Step 2: Go Back to Basics.

We know the ingredients to good discussions.  Examine the elements that were - and weren't - present.  We might find that we skipped some crucial steps or engaged in board meeting no-no's, like:

  • Not enough solid data to inform the conversation.
  • Not being clear with what decision is necessary.
  • Trying to rush through the conversation.
  • Putting a critical conversation at the end of the agenda.
  • Turning a board meeting into a committee meeting. 

Step 3: Review with Key Leadership.

Start with your Board Chair. Review the events, ask for feedback, ask for suggestions. Layout a plan.

Step 4: Acknowledge and Accept Roles.

Have an honest, open conversation with the key players about the experience.  This needs to be a healthy conversation—use all of your crucial conversation skills (use “I” statements instead of “you” statements that can feel accusatory, focus on information that is data-driven, presume positive intent of the other party, refrain from incendiary language, and provide solutions).

Step 5: Call it out.

Don’t sweep it under the rug. At your next board meeting, start fresh by saying, “We had a rough meeting last month. Let's re-frame the conversation, share the steps we have taken in the past month, and let's determine where we are today.”
Everyone experienced the same meeting on different levels—ignoring the reality that an uncomfortable or unproductive conversation has occurred breeds resentment and negative conflict. Addressing it directly can help the whole team be better and stronger.

Use the opportunity to illustrate how we recover from a bad day, that we all take ownership and that we can all forgive and be a better team.

Find yourself reeling from a tense meeting? We can coach you through the steps and help you equip yourself to navigate the conflict like a pro.  Call or email today to set up a conversation with a member of our capacity building team.


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