Board of trustees

How can tension between a principal and a board of trustees be resolved?

A good relationship between the principal and board is crucial to the effective running of a school. But, from time to time, tensions will arise. In the interest of effective governance all parties should avoid blame and instead enter into a proactive process to resolve tensions and resolve poor communication.

Steps to be taken in resolving tensions

  • All parties should avoid blaming and finger-pointing. There is little point in arguing that one or other party does not understand the roles of governance and management, for example.
  • Both parties need to work proactively on resolving communication issues. If concerns are ongoing, this may require the involvement of a mediator or facilitator to assist both parties.
  • Once a better communication process is established, the parties may begin to work on resolving difficulties in the various roles.
  • Often a breakdown has multiple and complex causes. A good starting point is to seek honesty from the board on how the relationship is perceived and what the board expects of the principal and vice versa.
  • Over time, developing and maintaining a mutually trusting and open relationship with the board chair and encouraging board training will foster better relationships.

There is a variety of support available to boards through NZSTA.

 Updated: October 2016

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