Board Reviews – Why are they important?

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If you are like 99% of the working population, you probably dread performance reviews.

The problem is, they are one of those things that are actually vitally important to the professional and personal development of individuals and the continuing success of an organisation.

Normally, we think of performance appraisals as applying to employees in a workplace. However, it is becoming increasingly common for not-for-profit Boards to conduct performance reviews and is seen as a key component of good governance.

According to a 2015 survey undertaken by Perpetual, those NFP’s who conducted regular Board performance reviews are more likely to be successful in meeting their objectives, as well as increasing revenue[1].

Anna Black, a career coach from Strategic Consulting and Careers agrees “When done well, performance reviews provide a valuable opportunity for both parties to learn about what they are doing well and plan for future improvement.” Anna, who has sat on Boards herself, says it is important to make sure that performance reviews are approached with a positive attitude and not treated as a “box-ticking exercise”.

Why aren’t Boards doing reviews?

 There are many reasons why Boards don’t do reviews. You might worried about being shamed, being criticised or people knowing your weak spots.

Maybe your organisation simply hasn’t thought about the idea, or, even if you have you haven’t had the time or the processes in place to make it happen.

Or maybe, you think you know it all? Trust me, no-one knows it all! There is always something new to learn. Especially in an area where you have legal responsibilities and where the landscape of organisations are constantly shifting due to changes in technology, funding or needs of its clients.

Board reviews don’t have to be scary. They can be done in a way that is productive and sensitive. Even failures can be turned into positives. The famous author Bram Stoker, who wrote Dracula said “We learn from failure, not from success”. This is very true. It is often challenges we face that provide us with the biggest learning opportunities.


So…how do you review a Board?

 Good question. And if you don’t know, you are not alone.

The 2016 NFP Survey indicated that over 40% of those who participated in the survey had no formal process for examining their own board performance.[2]

There is no “one size fits all” approach to working out how your Board is tracking and how individual directors are going. It is important to develop a process that works for your organisation and provides real and accurate information about the effectiveness of the Board in meeting the organisations goals and objectives.

Board reviews are also important on an individual Director level and can identify areas where directors feel like they need some additional learning. The reality is that we all can do with regular additional learning especially given that Directors have complex legal and financial responsibilities.

Upskilling directors, providing learning opportunities for future leaders and building confidence is fundamental to the sustainability of organisations and the communities within which they operate.




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