The decisions the board makes and the work that members do have far-reaching effects, making it vital for directors to perform at their highest capability. To ensure they are fulfilling their duties and responsibilities as individuals and as a group, boards should conduct annual self-assessments. Such assessments verify if members are meeting expectations, making progress toward goals, and following bylaws. They are also a chance to gather feedback on the board’s health and remind board members of processes and responsibilities.
Board and Individual Director Self-Assessments
There are many self-assessment tools available that boards can use to evaluate themselves as individual directors and as a group. One of our favorite evaluation tools for individual directors (downloadable below) organizes reflection questions into four categories: Governance Role, Knowledge of the Organization and the Environment,Effective Behaviors and Relationships, and Self-Development. The questions address how well each individual feels they are performing in their governance role and how they can enhance their contribution to the board. This self-assessment can be used solely for self-reflection purposes or as a basis for discussion on director development.
Most assessment tools designed for boards as a whole are used to assess the current effectiveness of the collective board and identify areas for improvement. They can be quick and easy checklists or more in-depth appraisals. You just need to determine what best fits your needs. In the more detailed self-assessment questionnaire downloadable below, questions are divided into 12 sections, each dealing with an important area of nonprofit board operations (E.g., Roles & Responsibilities, Policy, Planning, etc.). The results of the individual questions within the sections give insight into what the board does well and what are potential problem areas. This helps to focus board discussions on what governance activities should be prioritized and strengthened over the coming year to bring about the greatest benefit to the organization.
For any organization, board self-assessments are an effective way for the board to develop a common understanding of where they are now, where they want to go asa group, and how to best move forward to achieve those goals and objectives. At the same time, individual director assessments encourage self-reflection and can be a valuable complement to the board evaluation process. By making self-assessments a priority each year, your board will be well on its way to achieving governance excellence.
To learn more about assessments for the Executive Director of an organization, click here.
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