Peter Cardy: How can we cope with a tinkering chair?

Sector veteran Peter Cardy offers answers to your workplace dilemmas

Peter Cardy

Q We are recruiting a new manager for our volunteer team, but our chair keeps tinkering. She keeps questioning every aspect, including our selection of short and long-listed candidates. What should I do?

A Evidently delegation is a new idea to her. Say politely but firmly that either you can lead the recruitment or she can, but not both of you. More worrying is what this means for the new manager: will she want to second-guess all of her or his work? If so, it could be a very short-term appointment.

Q Halfway through the recruitment of our new chief executive, the trustee chairing the recruitment panel has decided to throw his hat in the ring. He is undoubtedly the strongest candidate in a weak field, but I have an uneasy feeling.

A You’re right to feel uneasy. Apart from anything else, the judgement of your trustee is in question for this late decision. Appoint him and you’ll find a Twitter-storm about the fairness of the process, inside knowledge, favouritism and so forth. There will be hostile gossip within the organisation and maybe within the board. You could have formal challenges from candidates who feel unfairly treated. It’s not worth the hassle: re-advertise and start the process afresh.

Q We have a useless trustee who was involved in setting up the organisation. She misses three out of four meetings and, when she does attend, contributes very little. I’m out of ideas. What should I do?

A Bite the bullet and get rid of them. Be clear, logical and explicit about the reasons. Make sure you’ve lined up a majority and propose a resolution to terminate her trusteeship. She might take the hint and resign.

Q One of our branches thinks a well-known mass-fundraising event run by a major charity in our sector is a good idea. They like it so much they’ve been quietly running their own local version under the same title and it’s taken off. Our relations with the other charity are tricky enough already. What should I do?

A Get on the phone to your opposite number at your larger cousin, explain and apologise. Talk to the local chair or organiser and explain that the event is the intellectual property of the other charity and you can’t use it without permission. Then do some creative thinking with the local group about the event and make it distinctively your own. There is plenty of room for fundraising with similar themes.

Q We’re too dependent on one large donor, so I’ve proposed to the chief executive that we set up a development sub-committee of the board. But she is really resisting. What should I do?

A Sketch out with the chief executive how a development sub-committee would work, how to align it with other planned changes and when to bring it on-stream. You might get a quite different reaction.

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