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How to Conduct a Board Self-Assessment

Board Self-Assessment is a critical board function that provides an ideal platform to discuss and analyze governance strengths and weaknesses. The board can use it to take a step back and honestly assess its own effectiveness. This will lead to better governance.

A successful board assessment process requires planning and time as well as board member engagement. The first step in determining the scope is to determine the audience for the evaluation. This could include the entire board, a specific committee or even individual directors. A good strategy will determine the evaluation method. Interviews, surveys or facilitated discussion are the most common methods. Once the extent of the evaluation and the method of evaluation have been established, it’s time to design and distribute questionnaires.

Some boards opt to conduct the evaluation internally, while others hire a third-party consultant. A third-party consultant will help ensure an impartial and thorough analysis, which is important in the event that you do not have the time or resources necessary to conduct the assessment yourself.

While it is essential for board members to evaluate their own performance, it’s equally important for nonprofit boards to focus on the group as a whole. It is easy for nonprofit boards and their evaluation facilitators to become absorbed in evaluating individuals’ responses and not pay attention to the board in its entirety.

A successful self-assessment will help boards better understand their expectations of each other, reveal weaknesses in the composition of their boards and align the expertise of the board with organizational strategy, address investor concerns about turnover and diversity and increase the effectiveness of board procedures and practices. In their proxy statements, companies that are public disclose the results of their board’s assessments.

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