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.