Magazine article Parks & Recreation

High Performance Boards: Luck of the Draw or by Design?

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

High Performance Boards: Luck of the Draw or by Design?

Article excerpt

There are literally thousands of park and recreation boards and commissions operating in advisory and administrative capacities for their respective communities. Their performance is critical to the success of their departments locally, and to the success of our movement nationally. We need to be more proactive in the development of this important community and professional asset rather than just allowing them to happen.

The responsibility for improving board performance has to be taken by the board chair, though the director has to carefully play an important supporting role as well. Board members should be "gently" encouraged to evaluate and assess the needs of the board and compare these to their own interests, competencies, demographics, committee activities and community involvement. This assessment should then be used to develop a plan to address any areas in which the board is lacking, and then training and creating strategies to further bolster board composition (demographic, interest and skill representation).

Development Strategies

As we know; board members with skills that move the department forward are needed to align the department's strategic direction and engage tire community. However, expectations have changed. Board members can no longer just run into a meeting for an hour and leave. One approach to accomplish this is to develop a skills matrix of department/ board needs, assessing current board member skills and then determining what is missing. Plans for development activities could then be designed based on this information. The board must require board members to meet performance standards. Though it is a self regulatory process, board members should be encouraged to identify and address their "development areas."

The Analysis

Board analysis and the eventual development plan should address the following items. And, if a board member, after training and coaching, is unable or unwilling to meet these performance standards, then there is potential for continued struggle to becoming a productive member of the policy-making body.

* Do board members understand their legal and fiduciary duties?

* Do board members understand the financial reports and are aware of the present financial condition of the department? …

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