Five Common Board Self-Assessment Processes

Please note: responses within any self-assessment process should remain anonymous.

1 -Brief self-assessment at the end of each board meeting

Use these guiding questions:

  • Was the agenda well prioritized?
  • Did we have sufficient dialogue on agenda topics and decisions?
  • Did we spend sufficient time on strategic issues?
  • Were pre-meeting materials adequate?
  • What adjustments should we make for the next meeting?

2 – Annual assessment of one element of governance.

Typical assessments focus on one of the following: Financial oversight and reporting; Strategy; Constituent feedback and data tracking; Committees; Task forces; Meetings and agenda; Board recruitment and development.

3 – Full spectrum assessment of overall governance.

These are readily available and affordable from vendors and professional associations or you can customize your own to ask assessment questions in the following governance domains:

  • Relevance of mission, vision and values.
  • Adequacy of strategy process and tracking.
  • Fiscal performance and oversight.
  • Board roles and responsibilities.
  • Board structure, makeup, and recruitment.
  • Board dynamics—relationships, meeting behavior and engagement, commitment to learning.
  • Enterprise Risk Management.
  • Meetings and agenda process, effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Board feedback and annual evaluation of CEO/Executive Director.

[Signature Resources has a set of sample questions around each of these governance domains that we will freely share with interested boards of directors upon request]

4 – Customized telephone interviews of board members.

These should be conducted by an outside objective governance professional. On one of my last telephone self-assessment projects we agreed to ask the following questions:

“What elements of governance and governance process do you fee best about?” “How effective and efficient are your board meetings?” “Are there opportunities for improvement?” “What’s working well with Board and CEO communication?” “Are their opportunities for improvement?” “How well does the board do with early identification and development of potential new board members?” “How well does the board do ‘onboarding / orienting’ new board members?” “Are you satisfied with the investment and effectiveness of board development to which you have access?” What might be the most important board development priorities?” “Please indicate your confidence level in governance processes in the following areas: financial oversight, strategic thinking and planning, setting organizational values, CEO feedback and evaluation, information available to the board?” “Any other comments, suggestions, or concerns your would like to offer for consideration in this assessment?”

5 – Board member to Board member feedback.

These assessments are rare and recommended only for a mature and well-functioning board. They should be facilitated by an outsider to the organization. Our approach asks each board member to answer only one question regarding each of their peer board members: “What might [name] do to add even greater value to our governance effectiveness?” We prefer the forward looking and affirming approach to this feedback. Some boards ask each board member to provide feedback to peer board members around specific behaviors such as: “participation and engagement;” “preparation and knowledge;” “commitment to development and learning.”

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