Board performance evaluations are now very common and are often enthusiastically welcomed by board members who see them as an excellent way of taking stock of their board’s governance.
Purpose of board performance evaluation
The purpose of a board performance evaluation is to identify opportunities for the board as a whole and individual board members to improve their governance performance over time. Ideally, evaluation should be against objective, pre-agreed criteria.
Many boards have a yearly or six-monthly review based around a series of discussion topics that are relevant to them. Some relevant topics for boards to discuss are:
- Does the board make good use of its meeting time, ensuring that its focus is on topics that are important and constitute a worthwhile use of the board’s time? (refer to topic ‘Board Meetings’);
- Does the board design its own agenda, preferably on a longer term, annual basis? (Refer to topic ‘Developing the Board Work Plan’);
- Does the board set standards for its own performance and assess itself against those expectations at least annually;
- Are there clear expectations for the performance of the chair? (refer to topic ‘The Role of the Chair’); and
- Is the work done in committees (if any) focused on the board’s governance responsibilities or does this relate more to operational functions? (refer to topic ‘Board Committees’)
(From Getting on Board; Creative New Zealand, p. 80).
Board evaluation examples
Examples of some generic templates are included in the Appendix. As stated above, it is best that these are adapted to ensure they are relevant to the entity’s situation.
- The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) in New Zealand comments on the merits of board evaluations in respect to boards of subsidiaries of local authorities: tinyurl.com/2xaqor
- Governance adviser Carter McNamara has a much-used ‘Board of Directors Self Evaluation’ at: www.managementhelp.org/boards/brd_eval.htm
- Two examples of Stakeholders surveys developed for Sports entities (but easily adaptable by entities as a basis for evaluation) can be downloaded from the Sport NZ site.
Updated on 7th March 2017