Why conduct a review
Most boards that conduct a regular board assessment also carry out a process to help their directors improve their effectiveness with the assistance of an independent external party.
Most will look to improve the effectiveness of their directors at the same time as they conduct their board review, but a small portion like to carry each out in alternate years.
The effectiveness of the board as a whole is inextricably linked to the effectiveness, experience and competence of the individual directors, as a whole, that comprise the board. Continually improving the effectiveness of individual directors is important to achieve better boards, which in turn makes for better organisations.
Benefits of a review
A well-structured review that is appropriately positioned as important for the ongoing development and growth of directors and that is conducted in a constructive way has significant benefits to the individual directors, the board and their organisation.
Gaps will almost certainly be identified and made visible in the self-awareness, attitudes, behaviours, commitment, teamwork, focus and skills of directors. Such gaps might not have been readily apparent to the relevant individual director or they may not have recognised the adverse impact that such a gap was having on the overall effectiveness of the board.
Once gaps have been identified and made visible using Board Benchmarking’s evidence based approach, they are much easier for the chair and the individual director to deal with.
Great boards ensure that a culture of continuous improvement is embedded at board level, which is likely to include integrating mentoring and coaching into the way directors are inducted, challenged, encouraged and supported by the chair and their fellow directors.
Director review process
Board Benchmarking has developed a simple and unobtrusive approach to assessing the effectiveness of individual directors. Its Director Effectiveness Survey uses a special online data collection technology that has been designed to be completed by each participant in one web based survey in less than 30 minutes.
The survey can also be completed by executives that regularly attend board meetings and who therefore know the directors well. They rate the attributes of each and provide comments in relation to their strengths and any suggestions they have for each director.
All the ratings and comments are merged together in the reports provided to each director to protect the anonymity of the responses of individual directors and executives.
We normally recommend a process that is advised to directors and any executives involved in advance. The process includes the Chair providing each director with a copy of their Director Effectiveness Report prior to having a one-on-one discussion with each director.
One of Board Benchmarking’s Board Advisory Partners will often debrief the Chair on their own report and advise the Chair on the best way to debrief the reports of individual directors with a particular focus on any that might be challenging. Individual directors are also often offered the opportunity of discussing their report with a Board Advisory Partner.
A separate group report that is provided to the board shows the average results for all directors, and identifies those issues that the directors excel at overall and those issues where they can most improve as a group.
Director survey framework
Our premium Director Effectiveness Survey includes 14 items chosen from a list of 28 items. A longer 28 item survey can be used or a short three item Director Effectiveness Module can be done separately or be added at the end of the Board Effectiveness Survey. Our Director Effectiveness Survey uses the following framework:
Highly reliable, high integrity and ethics, independence of mind, sound judgement, thorough, relates well to others
Constructive in a team, adds new perspectives, good group problem solver, presents views well, deals well with conflict, fully supports decisions
Sets a good example, insists on high standards, displays strategic thinking, can be decisive, influences direction and purpose, good ambassador
Understands oversight versus management, financially literate, understand legal duties, oversights risks, understands the business, its major challenges and drivers of success