Countless schools and preschools are operated by boards of directors. If your school is among them, then you know how challenging it can be to effectively express your administrative needs to your board. It can often take several months and multiple meetings to get what you need, if at all.
- Define Your Problem And Find A Solution
What pain are you experiencing in your day-to-day operations? Write it out. Clarify it and quantify it in terms of time and money wasted. Research solutions and find the one you think is best for your school. Gather as much information as you can, and craft a three-to-five minute pitch for your board.
- Make An Ally
When given the opportunity to attend a meeting or speak one-on-one with board members, pay close attention to the personalities.
- Who is the strongest decision-maker on the board?
- Who has the best head for numbers?
- Who is the most curious about the day-to-day events at the school?
These are your top three potential allies. Choose the one person with whom you have the best rapport, and approach them before the next scheduled board meeting with the problem and the solution you plan to present. Ask them if they can preview the materials you plan to present. If they agree, follow up with them before the meeting and ask if they will support you at the meeting. If for some reason they decline, thank them, and ask what adjustments to your request they would recommend before you pitch at the meeting. If their recommendations makes sense, and if you believe the board will agree with them, give them careful consideration.
- Pitch With Confidence
Begin your pitch by thanking your ally for reviewing your pitch. If they agreed to support your initial plan, they will probably be as excited as you for the presentation and eager to hear your pitch and give their thoughts. If they offered recommendations, acknowledge this, and quickly share whether you’ll be presenting your original solution, a revised solution, or two options.
Make your pitch and share any materials you have prepared. Answer questions as accurately and as thoroughly as you can. If you do not know the answer, make a note and tell the board you will email them with that information within a day or two.
Finally, ask for an estimated decision date. Is this something they can decide at this meeting? By next month’s meeting? This gently creates urgency in their minds.
- Follow Up
Whether or not you need to answer any questions presented by the board, be sure to send a quick follow-up email thanking them for their time and - in a sentence or two - reiterating your problem, your proposed solution, and your confidence that they will make the best decision for the organization.
- Guide Follow-Up Negotiations
If the board rejects your pitch, ask for recommendations, just like you did with your ally.
Do your homework, develop another solution, and try again!
Remember: you are the authority on your school. You are the one who is in the trenches each day. You know your needs. And if the problem you are trying to solve is real, you and your board will come to an agreement on a solution.