Put the cell phone away
One of my presentation slides elicited an interesting discussion the other day. An astute attendee asked about cell phones in board meetings - should we allow them and how do we create a policy around their use? I have seen some behaviour in meetings that concerns me. Recently a director took a call during the meeting and stayed at the table for the entire conversation! Another continued to text while a critical topic was being discussed.
While I am aware that everyone is busy and has a life outside of meetings, we also must respect our fellow directors at the table and the fact that the purpose of our meetings is to get some business done. When we volunteer for a board or committee, that means we commit to that work, including staying focused on the task at hand. Taking calls or texting in meetings is highly disruptive behaviour. And dare I say, disrespectful!
I am not a fan of creating a specific policy for this, however, there must be some open dialogue about expectations in your meetings. Your code of conduct would be a great document to use in this situation. And make sure everyone is aware of these expectations before they even attend their first meeting with you.
And by the way, a phone placed upside down on the boardroom table does not portray your commitment to the meeting. It states that you are with the team until something more important comes up (ie when that phone buzzes or until you cannot resist the temptation to look at it).