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Governance, Management and You!
April 27, 2010

Most charter people use the term “micro-management” to describe the actions of a Charter Board that delves into administrative matters…as if it were an inevitable activity that evokes a knowing smile.

MACSB disagrees with that view. Boards should not micro-manage, mini-manage or engage in any other activity that resembles either.

Boards are there to govern and be accountable to the public and the authorizer.  Managers are there to manage and be accountable to the board !

Why do Boards succumb?

  • Because administrative topics are “magnetic”…they make a Board feel engaged and involved in the school,and provide endless opportunities for discussion, debate, argument, committee work and  decisions.
  • Because it is the “tradition” practiced by almost all School it must be the thing to do!
  • Because they can...after all, the Board does sit at the top of the Academy organizational chart.
  • Because they have not adopted a workable model for effective “governing” that replaces the need to meddle.

Here’s what happens when Boards succumb:

The Board now “owns” the administrative decisions it made or “helped” to make.  Consequently, management is not allowed to ply the skills the Board paid for in the first place, can’t be properly held accountable for the results and is able to properly blame the Board if things go wrong. 

The Board has replaced compensated management expertise with the majority judgment of people who may have little collective knowledge of the topic…often leading to less than the best decisions.    

The role confusion created by micro-management is a prescription for eventual breakdown in Board/management respect and relationships. The Board has replaced its rightful governance duties with matters best left to others and has set the stage for mutual dissatisfaction.  


So what’s the cure?

As you might also guess, it goes right back to the message of the previous Board Bits:

  1. The Board adopts the proper job description…“making sure the Academy works”.  That is what everyone expects the Board to do.

  2. The Board carries out its job by establishing its expectations for performance, giving management the freedom to meet those expectations, and monitoring/assessing the results. 

When that happens, good things follow:

There is clear demarcation of governance vs. management responsibilities and mutual respect and appreciation for the difference.

Management is given the flexibility to do its job without interference or second guessing, and can be held rightly accountable for the results.

The Board is comfortable it has its arms around the school while keeping its fingers out of it.   

The Board is governing in a way that demonstrates its accountability to its authorizer, the school family and the general public.

A Board codifies its governance role when its performance expectations are compiled in written form, briefly and concisely worded, easily referenced by all parties and used to guide Board priorities and actions.  It is truly the document that serves as the framework and road map for quality Board governance. 

In the next Board Bits, we will provide examples of performance expectations that apply to the Board itself, and how they are monitored and assessed

Other Bits
Time to Look at Ourselves
Governance, Management and You!
Here We Go
Doing the Job!
Picking up where we left off...
Where it all Begins!