A self-evaluation by a board at least once a year can improve how the board functions. If only one significant improvement results, the evaluation will be a success, whether the board is for a public or private company, a nonprofit or a government entity.
Success depends on designing and conducting the evaluation properly. A self-evaluation can be worthless or even destructive if it damages relationships – people don’t like gripe sessions and won’t take personal criticism if it isn’t presented well. If an evaluation is a waste of time, that perception can become a self-fulfilling prophecy that dooms future evaluations, no matter how well they are conducted.
I have served on a number of boards, committees and professional organizations with people from very different backgrounds, and with very different personalities. Over the years, I have been involved in very emotional and contentious disputes and dispute-resolution processes. I can say with confidence that one size definitely doesn’t fit all.
Still, there are enough common threads for successful self-evaluations that I wrote a form that I’m attaching. It is designed to help every director find a way to want to constructively and fully participate in the board’s self-evaluation, so the director can use the opportunity to improve his or her future experiences on the board, so the board can function better as a unit, and so the board can interact more effectively with people who are not on the board.
The form, which contains fill-in text boxes, allows flexibility for your board and organization. Key decisions include: Who will be involved in the evaluation process? Who will lead it? Will you use a facilitator? (I generally recommend one, but of course one isn’t required.) Should your evaluation be conducted through legal counsel to possibly improve the opportunity to shield the evaluation from discovery by outside parties? And should you allow anonymous comments or suggestions?
I hope you find the form useful.