How to Conduct a Board Self-Assessment

Board Self-Assessment is an essential function of the board, and provides an excellent platform for discussing and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of governance. The board can take advantage of it to take a step back and objectively assess its own effectiveness. This will lead to better governance.

Making a board assessment effective process requires planning time, as well as participation of board members. The first step is determining the scope of the assessment. It could be the entire board, specific committees and/or individual directors. A good strategy will determine the method of evaluation. The most common methods include surveys, interviews or facilitation of discussions. Once the extent of the evaluation and the methodological approach have been identified then it's time to develop and distribute questionnaires.

Some boards decide to conduct the assessment on their own while others employ a third party consultant. A Board Self Evaluation third-party consultant will help ensure a thorough, impartial analysis, which is particularly crucial when your board does not have the time or the resources to conduct the assessment on their own.

While it is important for board members' evaluation themselves, it's equally important for boards of nonprofit organizations to look at the group as a whole. It is easy for board members of nonprofit organizations and their facilitators to become obsessed with evaluating the individual's responses and neglect the board as a unit.

A successful self-assessment will help boards clarify expectations, discover weaknesses in the composition of their boards and align knowledge of the board with the organization's strategy, address concerns from investors regarding turnover and diversity and improve board procedures and practices. In their proxy statements, public companies disclose the outcomes of their board's evaluations.

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