Friday, October 9, 2009

A Board Self-Assessment Tool to Get You Started

My last poll about board self-assessment attracted thirteen respondents. Six have done or do self-assessments; six haven't; and one intrepid person who admits to needing a bit of help with the whole process.

So, to help get those of you who are interested in self-assessment a bit of a jump start, I'd just loaded a tool on my website that you can use as is, or adapt to best suit your needs.

Here are some thoughts about using it, once you've decided to take the plunge:

  • First, consider the self-assessment as a baseline of information/feedback from the board about how it does its work from the governance and organizational structure point of view.
  • Give the board some time to review the findings and comments.
  • Structure part of a board meeting (or several meetings or a retreat) around discussion of the findings.
  • Focus primarily on areas of greatest discrepancy in responses. Spend some time delving into why some board members rated a statement weak while others rated it strong. Try to clear up discrepancies or reach consensus about them.

Can’t seem clear up discrepancies despite their importance? Make sure these issues are included in your strategic plan as strategies or tasks to be worked on by committees, staff, or task forces.

  • Now focus on those statements rated by the majority of respondents as very weak or somewhat weak. Which statements does the group want to work on to strengthen? Which are not of concern for the group at this time?

Include areas that need strengthening as strategies or tasks in your strategic plan to be addressed by committees, staff, or task forces.

  • Lastly, focus on the strong areas. How can the board use its strengths and attitudes to overcome its weaknesses?
  • Take the self-assessment periodically to see how much progress you’re making. Use the assessment to benchmark successes and to identify areas that need continued attention.

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