Regular, systematic evaluation of both the group and its individual members helps the board focus on progress made toward its mission, and to make adjustments when approaches taken prove to be less-than-effective. Evaluation can take many different forms, from highly formal to informal, and should be a regular part of your work.
At minimum, the board must revisit its strategic plan on an annual basis: has it accomplished what it intended to achieve in the last year? If not, why? Were the goals or deadlines unrealistic? Did you lack needed resources to complete the job? Use this as an opportunity to revise your plan and/or identify alternative ways to reach your goals. Consider making this a semi-annual or quarterly process, to help your group focus on goals and make adjustments as needed.
On a more basic level, take some time after each meeting to evaluate the experience and your performance. Did you accomplish your group goals for the session? Does everyone have clear direction for individual and committee work to be done between now and the next meeting? Was the meeting format functional? Listen and learn from the answers.
Individually, take time throughout the year to review your performance. Are you living up to the responsibilities of board membership? What tools/support/information do you need to be more effective? Where can you obtain them? If you continue to struggle to meet your obligations, should you reconsider your position on the board?
Newer boards – Build evaluative processes into your board and committee structures, and communicate from the beginning the importance of regular review of progress made and obstacles to success.
Veteran boards – Review your evaluation processes for effectiveness – do they exist? Do they measure what you intend to measure? Do they provide useful information? If not, revise them to increase their value to your board. If you do not already have evaluation processes in place – at the board, committee and individual level – consider instituting them at an annual (minimum) basis.
Some questions to guide discussion:
• How do we measure “success,” both for the group and individual members?
• How do we evaluate ourselves as board members?
• Are our goals measurable?
• Do our evaluation tools measure the right things?
• How can we enhance these processes?