How to Conduct a Board Self-Assessment

Board Self-Assessment offers a means to analyze and discuss governance strengths and weakness. The board can take advantage of it to step back and honestly assess its own effectiveness. This will result in better governance.

A successful board assessment process requires planning time, as well as involvement of the board members. The first step in determining the scope is to determine who will be the target audience for the assessment. It could be the entire board, a particular committee or even individual directors. A good plan should also define the method of evaluation. Interviews, surveys or facilitated discussion are the most common methodologies. Once the extent of the evaluation and the methodology have been determined then it’s time to develop and distribute questionnaires.

Some boards opt to conduct the assessment in-house while others hire an outside consultant. A third-party consultant will help provide a thorough and fair analysis, which is especially crucial if your board does not have the time or resources to conduct the evaluation on their own.

While it is important for board members’ evaluation themselves, it’s equally important for boards of nonprofit organizations to focus on the group as in its entirety. It is easy for nonprofit boards and their evaluation facilitators to get bogged down in assessing individual responses and not take the time to evaluate the board in its entirety.

A successful self-assessment helps boards clarify expectations, reveal weaknesses in the composition of their boards and align knowledge of the board with organizational strategy, address concerns of investors regarding diversity and turnover and improve the effectiveness of board procedures and practices. In their proxy statements, public companies report the outcomes of their board’s evaluations.

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