Performing a Board Assessment is one of the most important actions you can take with your board to improve effectiveness. Most people get uncomfortable when I ask when they last did a meaningful Board Assessment.
Sometimes the response is, ‘well, we did one of those but it wasn’t very helpful’. Or, ‘we did spend some time on that but nothing really changed, so probably not worth it. And ‘it is too time consuming’, or ‘the questions seemed too easy / too hard to answer’, ‘how can we use the feedback anyway?’
My take on that is that it is too easy to throw out the tool or technique rather than face the challenge of changing. It can be uncomfortable of course.
But, if you cannot take a good look in the mirror and assess how you are performing individually and collectively, then you really are on the trajectory to remain as a low performing board.
If on the other hand you have real aspirations to get better, then there are simple ways to do this. It does not have to be time consuming, onerous or a meaningless exercise.
What about if you as Chair called each director one on one, and asked three questions:
- How do you think we are doing as a board?
- How do you think I am doing as Chair?
- How do you think you are doing as a director?
This conversation will take 30 minutes per director and will yield some interesting answers, I promise! Of course, it is also true that you have to do something with the feedback. But even if you only get one good idea per every other person and try it at the next meeting, you will be on a trajectory for self-improvement. Plus, you will build better bonds with each director as you have taken the time to listen to each person one on one.