31st January 2019

Building better Boards: how to improve Board performance through self- evaluation

Category: Board & Committee Self-Evaluation

The importance of Boards periodically reviewing their performance is now well-established in governance practice. As an extension of the Board, its committees, which act on its behalf, also need to evaluate their performance and report into the Board on their findings.  The concept of stopping to review performance after a period and to see if it remains connected with the organisation’s objectives and strategy seems sound.  But evaluation is only useful if it’s implemented well.  The problem we’ve experienced with Board and committee evaluation in practice, is that it can be reduced to filling out a questionnaire only.  Board and committee members are often not prepared in advance, the evaluation questionnaire is presented to them as an external requirement, and the outcomes aren’t adequately discussed.

Having seen how valuable an exercise self-evaluation can be, we’ve dedicated our first One Question Guide to Board Self-Assessment Evaluation.  We’ve developed an 8-step model that focusses on the key stages that can add value before, during and after the Board self-evaluation.  Amongst our recommendations are the importance of:

Briefing the Board in advance: Some time needs to be taken for the Chair to talk to the Board about the purpose of the evaluation process and how it will work.  If Board members aren’t prepared for the evaluation exercise, they are less likely to consider it important.

Talking to Board members about their responses to the questionnaire – including their positive responses:  The focus of evaluation is normally on the negative outcomes. The positive responses need to be looked at too.  A collective positive self-evaluation by a Board on its performance needs to be challenged and justified – is it clear what the high satisfaction rating is based upon?

Following up on the outcomes of evaluation:  The formal self-evaluation exercise is usually annual, but the Board needs to remain engaged with its outcomes throughout the year.  After the evaluation, and where actions have been identified, the Board should be overseeing and discussing progress against these actions.

The Board self-evaluation can provide Board members with a rare opportunity to raise their heads above the detail and to reset their focus on their collective roles and purpose.  Facilitating that opportunity presents advantages for the Board and for the organisation.

A preview of our One Question Guide on Board Self-Assessment Evaluation is available in our shop.


The comprehensive One Question Guide #1 Board Self-Assessment Evaluation includes –

*A guide that provides an 8 stage model for the self-evaluation process
*A user-friendly fillable questionnaire
*Templates for analysing, reporting and following-up on the outcomes of the questionnaire

For information on related consultancy, facilitation and workshops provided by the company, visit our website.

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