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Governance  |  Leadership  |  Professional development

Board effectiveness self-assessment


Written by Elise Perraud, NEDonBoard COO

Considering the important role and responsibilities of the board, why would an organisation satisfy itself with a sub-standard board i.e. a board inadequately set up to address the organisation’s challenges, define the strategy and achieve the corporate mission? To improve the performance of the board and of individual board members, a best practice is to perform a board effectiveness self-assessment.

The board effectiveness self-assessment aims at identifying the strengths of a board, areas that need improvement and measures to achieve better performance.

The case for board effectiveness self-assessment

Here are some of the reasons to start an annual board effectiveness self-assessment process:

  • Look internally at the board itself and how well functioning it is
  • Reflect on the individual performance of the board members and collective performance of the board
  • Clarify expectations
  • Ensure that board members are aligned and abide by a shared vision
  • Identify areas that need attention and improvement
  • Provide feedback to individual board members
  • Increase the level of board teamwork
  • Provide transparency and alleviate concerns of investors, shareholders and other stakeholders requesting the result of the board effectiveness self-assessment
  • Demonstrate and increase accountability of the board and its members

How to evaluate the effectiveness of board meetings?

Board effectiveness self-assessment should include three main components:

  • Who – board composition, skills and attributes
  • What – set of activities overseen by the board e.g. strategy, succession planning, etc.
  • How – practicalities, board dynamics and board culture

The inclusion of peer-to-peer reviews can be helpful and important as non-executive directors and other board members typically get little feedback. Comments and suggestions from peers on where they add value and areas for improvement can be useful and achieve a higher performance of the board.

Related post: Board dynamics


Tips and best practices for board effectiveness self-assessment

NEDonBoard offers the following recommendations for you to implement your annual self-assessment.

  • Define the self-assessment process and agree it with all board members. The process should be well-planned
  • Make sure feedback given by individual board members is anonymous and confidential (to the extent this is possible, given the size and composition of the board)
  • Get buy-in from all board members on the process and purpose of the board effectiveness self-assessment
  • Use technology where possible to streamline the process, make the self-assessment easy and promote security and confidentiality
  • Include all board members in the self-assessment i.e. the chair, the non-executive directors and executive directors
  • Make sure that the results of the self-assessment are shared with the full board and take action if areas for improvement are identified
  • Share the summarised board effectiveness self-assessment with stakeholders

Who leads to board effectiveness self-assessment?

This is specific to each organisation but typically the following committee and/or individuals are tasked ensuring that boards complete the self-assessment:

If you are an individual board member or an organisation looking to initiate a board effectiveness self-assessment for your board and needing support, please contact [email protected].

For more and to increase your knowledge and skills, please visit the NED Diploma course page.