While it is worthwhile experience for the opportunity to give-back and make a difference as member of a board, there can equal amounts of frustration when progress is a stalled in meeting your mission. This can be remedied by conducting a self-evaluation of your board’s practices and productivity. Self-evaluation is a standard practice recommended by many experienced board advocates. This can be readily achieved through a questionnaire completed by each member with follow-up discussion among the group on what they see as effective practices as well as needed areas for improvement.
I like to break the performance criteria into two areas: “Board Structure & Practices”, and “Board Behaviors & Relationships”,
Aspects of “Structure” focus on descriptors such as board mission, meeting management and member training. Individual board member behaviors and the relationships and interactions among all board members comprise “Behavior” performance criteria. Examples include communications, accountability and problem solving.
Here is a sample questionnaire get you started in evaluating your board.
Would you agree or disagree with the following performance criteria as they pertain to your board experience?
Board Structure & Practices
- Strategic Plan: Board members clearly understand their organization’s strategic plan. Their work reflects the organization’s mission statement and strategic objectives.
- Board Policies & Procedures: All members have copies of the board’s policies and procedures, member responsibilities, and committee roles. New board members receive an orientation on their accountabilities toward becoming an effective board member.
- Meeting Management: Board meetings have established agendas and related materials are provided to board members in time for their review. Meeting agenda items are addressed and action taken. There are limited occurrences of unresolved items continually carried over from meeting to meeting.
- Board Composition: Board members possess the qualifications, experience, and diversity to meet their objectives, and address organizational and community needs.
- Board Leadership: Meetings are well facilitated, focused on priorities and refocused if discussion diverges off agenda items. The board chair supports the board and effectively represents the board and organization to its stakeholders.
Board Behaviors & Relationships
- Working Environment: Board working environment is generally tension free with communication open, everyone participating, not holding back on their ideas or opinions. Board members treat each other with respect and listen to and value all input for consideration.
- Interpersonal Communications: Criticism is openly expressed to address issues and without personal attacks directed at board members. Disagreements and conflict do occur as part of the process to constructively problem solve and work through issues. They do not prohibit progress but are managed effectively.
- Decision Making: Board members gather information to make evidenced-based decisions to arrive at a group consensus in which everyone goes along to complete the job.
- Member Accountability & Commitment: Board members are accountable to completing their assigned tasks and committed to board driven decisions even if they do not agree with action decided on.
- Member Leadership: Based on the board’s need for a member’s expertise, board members regularly step-up to lead discussions and committees to address issues. Members act as good will ambassadors positively representing the organization as its advocate to the public.
“Senior management’s job is to pay people…If they &#%!@?!”a hundred guys out of a hundred grand each, that’s ten million more for them. They have four categories: happy, satisfied, dissatisfied, disgusted. If they hit happy, they’ve screwed up: They never want you happy. On the other hand, they don’t want you so disgusted you quit. The sweet spot is somewhere between dissatisfied and disgusted.” Quote from the book The Big Short.
That quote hit home for me. Like many of us I have been on the receiving end of some interesting incentive goal setting rationale. In one case, the payout started once I was 10% above last year’s numbers, while the organization’s projected annual sales growth was set at 3%. A real disconnect in goal setting. I didn’t see a dime until I made my case to my boss’s boss for a plan modification. One of my clients was planning to offer a commission they couldn’t afford: the payout was higher than projected revenue growth. Consider the following suggestions in setting up a plan for your staff:
- Start with your organization’s strategy and what your want to achieve and link sales efforts to established strategic objectives.
- Develop sales goals in the context of the projected revenue growth for your business to sync sales performance.
- Do homework to determine what your production has been. Sales goals set without any historical analysis is like “shooting in in the dark” with goals too high or too low based on past results.
- Make goals realistic and attainable with a performance stretch. If you desire higher production, set additional performance tiers and pay accordingly. Unrealistic expectations demotivate, while easy goals won’t allow you to attain the growth you want.
- Put the incentive expense in the context of the financial benefit to your business. Yeah, you paid some big bonuses but how does your bottom-line look.
- Run the program for a test period to learn where you may need modifications.
- If a new plan, start out with a fair payout that you can always modify as you gather more data. You want to avoid reducing an amount in the future. That will hang over your sales people like a dark cloud; a real motivation and trust killer.
How did that sound-bite strike you? The U.S. Census Bureau reported that E-Commerce sales in the second quarter of 2016 were 8.1% of total sales. That means that 92% of retail sales were through traditional retail sales channels and not over the internet, mobile device or online commerce system. Ask the people you work with what they think the percentage is. I am betting that you will hear a wide range of guesses like 50, 60, 70 and 80 percent. The actual number will surprise them because we all only hear the big headlines on digital sales growth.
I am not denying the digital evolution’s disruption in the marketplace. It is just that social media isn’t necessarily the end in itself for many businesses. Facebook, Linkedin, digital advertising, website design and search engine optimization will drive traffic for you. Today’s workers, however, still need possess the skills to be an effective team member and be able to successfully engage co-workers with problem solving skills to create solutions to address customer needs and improve processes. Do have a digital plan but don’t overlook traditional skills.
Barnes and Noble CEO Leonard Riggio commenting recently on sales performance indicated that the bookseller “shot itself in the foot” by cutting store personnel and reducing inventory and that “The last place you take expenses out is on the sales floor ”.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, employers are having a tough time locating employees with those skills. Kate Davidson writes, “Those traits, often called soft skills, can make the difference between a standout employee and one who just gets by.”
I prefer to call them employability-success skills because these skills help someone get a job, but also move up the career ladder. They are not unique to a particular occupation or industry, but are required skills among all business sizes, utilized by the entry-level worker to executive suite. Across the world of work, people need to be capable communicators, team members, problem solvers and relationship builders.
So where do you start to move the needle on these critical employability success skill-sets:
- Conduct a needs analysis of your current workforce to inventory depth of strength of their employability-success skills.
- Make sure the management team possesses these skills and are role models for the rest of the organization.
- Utilize behavioral and situational interviewing to hire people with the selected skills.
- Integrate the employability-success skills into the performance management process to reinforce the required skill-sets and develop them where the need is identified.
- Evaluate project team performance not only for meeting deliverables, but also how the overall and individual team members performed on the employability-success skills dimensions.
Everyone is enthusiastic since their ideas were heard and they are now ready to run full steam ahead with implementation of their tactics: making their idea a reality as a solution for the organization. But, maybe you are thinking: should I devote resources to it? And, if you were so fortunate as to have 10 people in that meeting with ten ideas…can you do all those tactics?
I agree, that it is never fun, since the last thing we want to do is to diminish any creative drive by our staff. But you can facilitate their continued involvement and commitment while managing resources to meet the priorities at hand. This can be accomplished by having them participate in the rating process to “weight” which tactics might have a better payoff.
What you find is that it actually structures the decision making process while successfully generating more discussion as people begin to think through their ideas. Here are the steps:
1) Title a spreadsheet or flip chart with the name of the initiative
2) Create 6 column heads on the spreadsheet:
> Idea/Tactic: action to meet the initiative
> Value/Relevancy: tactic’s relevancy to initiative?
> Ease of Implementation: easily execute the tactic?
> Resource Availability: have people, money, time?
> Cost Benefit: tactic’s impact worth the effort?
> Total Rating: total of weightings
3) List all the ideas under the Idea/Tactic column
4) Provide each team member with the spreadsheet
5) Each member weights each idea vs. the criteria on a scale1 to 4, with four as highest or best adding-up the weights for a Total Rating.
6) Highest weighted become the direction pursued.
7) Two or three complimentary tactics can be clustered into one grouping to be executed by a sub-team.
The link below will take you directly to my free 30-minute webinar “Maximizing Customer Engagement at Your Business” sponsored by the Mahwah Regional Chamber of Commerce as part of their Professional Development Series.
Your company, like many others, has experienced the impact of the digital revolution. You probably are spending money on digital and print advertising, website design and search engine optimization to drive customer traffic. In addition, many businesses are transforming themselves by offering their customers seamless multichannel access involving the integration of digital and physical service channels: mobile, desktop, store, and call centers.
As a result, you and your employees are now interacting with customers in multiple ways: telephone, email, retail floor, front counter and field sales.
We ask simple questions for you to ask yourself: will your staff gain the customer’s trust and confidence in those personal interactions that enables them to close the deal or deepen customer loyalty? Are your business practices in-place for quality customer assurance?
In my webinar, I pose the notion that there has been one constant of continued importance during this marketplace reinvention: that workforces must continue to possess social, customer service and sales skills and practices to deepen customer engagement.
- A customer engaged organizational culture: – what does it look like – takeaways to guide your business
- Documented research that effective customer engagement behavior benefits a business’ financial outcomes
- Responding to a changing marketplace – diverse industries hired and developed a new type of worker
- Your leadership, company mission & values as a strategic foundation for successful customer engagement
- Changing your employee’s mindset to build their confidence and comfortably transition into this economy
- Actions to develop customer engagement skills and practices at your organization
Webinar Direct Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd9PJWZGFl0