A question came up during a recent online discussion about whether the names of members attending a board meeting should be listed in the minutes, and perhaps even show what time the member arrived.
Here’s not one, not two, but THREE answers!
First, the good news is there’s no wrong answer. At the end of the day, the minutes are what the specific body within your organization decides by majority vote it wishes to have in its minutes. Different organizations have different style minutes.
Second, if you follow (or try to follow) Robert’s Rules of Order there is no answer, as members attending don’t make it into the content of minutes. Instead, the formal requirements of minutes can be found here: Minutes. Robert’s only cares if enough members were present for a quorum and whether certain essential officers were present, but that’s because its model minutes are for all organizations, including membership or annual meetings with far more present than you would want to list in the minutes. That said, many smaller bodies such as boards regularly list those in attendance.
Third, for organizations that do put the names of members in attendance in the minutes, I see several models, including (a) the list at the top shows who was present at all, regardless of arrival time (most common); (b) the list at the top shows who was present and when they arrived; (c) the body of the minutes note a member’s arrival; or (d) for organizations that list how members vote on items, “not present” might be shown.
Recognize that if you start noting when members show up, anyone who heads to the bathroom or departs early really ought to listed similarly. Which is why listing such details has both parliamentary and political aspects. Now you’re showing who isn’t attending meetings regardless of reason—just tardy or a death in the family? And will such information be used against individuals running for office? Which is why I’ve seen what seems like an administrative issue turn into more. And sometimes leads the body to decide they don’t want that sort of detail in the minutes!
My latest book, Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track, became available this month and has whole chapter on what should and should not be in minutes, model minutes, and skeletal minutes (how to write minutes before the meeting). Pleased to say the book’s been the #1 new release in its category on Amazon, as small a category as that might be. The book is available from Amazon (here’s a link), traditional and online bookstores, as well as electronically.
There are also many free charts and articles on Robert’s and minutes at www.jimslaughter.com.