Parking Lot Meetings. Canada 150 Recommendation #35

Thursday’s= Governance

When I teach governance I often talk about parking lot meetings and what a bad idea they are.

A parking lot meeting takes place after a board meeting. This occurs when there are small groups of people standing around talking to each other before they get in their cars or wander off to the bus stop.

These groups of people should not be talking about anything that was discussed at the board meeting. The time to talk about board business was while you were at the table. Any board business that is being discussed in these little groups after the meeting does not include the full board.

Every board member has the right to be invited to every board meeting. If you have a meeting, talk about board business and don’t invite everyone you are denying board members their rights.

Another issue would be, why you were not comfortable enough to talk at the boardroom table? If you have something to say then the time to say it is when everyone is present, not gossiping after the meeting. Board members have to be brave, or at least brave enough to share their opinions.

When you have parking lot meetings, the board members who are left out may be confused at the next meeting because they were not involved in the discussions held at the parking lot meeting. If you have ever attended a meeting and felt like everyone else seemed to know more about the issues on the agenda, it is possible that there were meetings held without you. This type of behaviour leads to a dysfunctional board.

It is the chairs responsibility to make sure that every board member has an opportunity to be heard at each meeting. It is also the chairs responsibility to make sure that parking lot meetings are not occurring.

Best practice is to have all your board meetings at the boardroom table.

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