How to Clearly Outline Job Descriptions for Your Board

Follow these three rules when defining jobs to make sure your board members are strategic and aligned with your mission.

Follow these three rules when defining jobs to make sure your board members are strategic and aligned with your mission.

Although association board members are volunteers, giving them each a clearly defined “job” description is critical. Doing so will allow you to move board projects and initiatives forward and make their volunteer experiences more meaningful.

But where do you start? A smart job description should accomplish three things. First, it should define the board member’s role as a representative of the association and set expectations for the position. Second, it should establish the qualifications needed. Third, it should clearly identify his or her responsibilities. Adding these elements into the description will help create a pathway for greater satisfaction and increased productivity among volunteers.

1. Be explicit about expectations. Consider how board members represent an association both internally and externally. You will need to prepare board members to act as ambassadors of the association to fellow members and as spokespersons to the public. As such, a job description should include the expectation that board members understand and embrace an association’s mission statement and that they are prepared to uphold the core values that support that mission.

2. Define job qualifications. An effective board of directors comprises individuals with complementary skills. Defining the requirements of each position can smooth the process of matching the most appropriate person with each job. Although all board positions require particular qualifications, the defined job of a board member may need a certain set of skills and qualifications, depending on the role (e.g., finance management skills for the treasurer position, public speaking for the president or chair). It’s key to understand the skills needed for each position on the board and define them upfront. This is especially true during the leadership vetting process, as it may foster a smoother election process.

3. Explain leadership responsibilities. The job of a board member includes various leadership roles: liaison, manager, spokesperson, coach, mediator, facilitator, and cheerleader. Include these and any other responsibilities in your job description. It is imperative that board members understand their leadership responsibilities in order to foster transparent communication, empower project and program teams, and nurture a collaborative working environment.

Having clearly defined job descriptions for board positions allows the board as a whole to operate at its highest strategic level to uphold the mission and goals of the association.