How to Conduct a Board Self-Assessment

Board Self-Assessment provides a platform to analyze and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of governance. The board can take advantage of it to take a step back and honestly assess its own effectiveness. This will lead to better governance.

Time, planning and engagement of board members are necessary to develop an effective board evaluation process. The first step is to determine the scope of the assessment. It could be the whole board, a particular committee or individual directors. A solid plan will identify the evaluation methodology. Surveys, interviews or facilitated discussions are all common methods. Once the extent of the evaluation and the method of evaluation have been established the next step is to create and distribute questionnaires.

Some boards choose to conduct the evaluation internally, while others hire a third-party consultant. A third-party consultant can help provide a thorough and fair analysis, which is especially important if your board does not have the time or resources to conduct the assessment on their own.

While it is essential for board members to assess their own performance, it is equally important for nonprofit boards to focus on the group as a whole. It is easy for nonprofit boards and their evaluation facilitators to become absorbed in evaluating the responses of individual members and not take the time to evaluate the board in its entirety.

A successful self-assessment is able to help boards define expectations, uncover gaps in the board composition and align knowledge of the board with the organization’s strategy, address concerns from investors about turnover and diversity, and increase board procedures and practices. In their proxy statements, companies that are public disclose the outcomes view it of their board’s evaluations.

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