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Evaluating the Board and Members
One of the most powerful practices for Board members is to evaluate the quality of their Board operations. Many times, Board members do not know what they do not know about their own Board. For example, they might be terribly ineffective because they all have fallen into a rut in their operations — and they have not even realized it. Or, they might have gotten side-tracked into attending to certain urgent matters (for example, the latest crisis reported by the Chief Executive Officer), and are ignoring very important matters (for example, strategic planning that would have avoided those crises altogether).
Board members who claim that they do not need evaluation and Board training are like obese people who claim that they do not need advice about eating because, after all, they are already experts at eating. Experienced and highly effective Board members have learned that it’s critical to regularly conduct short, practical evaluations of the quality of their Board operations and then to attend to the results of those evaluations during the year. Evaluations need not take a long time — many times, even 15 minutes a year from each Board member to complete a short questionnaire, followed by half an hour to discuss results, can be transformational for a Board.
Here are a variety of free Board self-evaluation tools. Aim to select a tool that asks at least as much about the actual occurrence of activities on your Board as about how members feel about the Board. It’s good practice to have a small team of Board members review and select the best tool. It’s often best if each Board member completes a tool on his/her own, rather than together in a group. Also, the best time to do a Board evaluation is now. Don’t wait until new members have learned more about the Board — that’s like waiting until you feel fine before seeing the doctor. Keep in mind that Board members of nonprofits are volunteers and their time is often very limited, so pick a tool that Board members will even have enough time to complete.
Again: How Should Nonprofits Conduct Board Evaluations? (general guidelines;
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