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Guidelines for Board of Directors Evaluation of Chief Executive

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

Vast majority of content in this topic applies to for-profits and nonprofits. This book also covers this topic.
Developing, Operating and Restoring Your Nonprofit Board - Book Cover

Sections of This Topic Include

Benefits of Evaluating the Chief Executive
One Process to the Chief Executive (with Sample Schedule)
Special Considerations
Sample Form for Board's Evaluation of the Chief Executive

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Library's Boards of Directors Blog
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Benefits of Evaluating the Chief Executive

Evaluating the Chief Executive is a primary responsibility of the Board. There are several key benefits from this evaluation, including that the process:
1. Ensures the Board is meeting its duty to effectively lead the organization
2. Ensures organizational goals are being met
3. Ensures continued development of the Chief Executive to more effectively conduct his or her role
4. Ensures a formal and documented evaluation process that meets standards of fairness and practicality
5. Ensures the Chief Executive values his or her role, is benefiting from it and therefore is more likely to stay (finding good Chief Executives is increasingly difficult)
6. Leaves written record of the Board's impression of the Chief Executive's performance in case this record is needed for future verification, e.g., for salary increases, probationary activities, firing, etc.

One Process to Evaluate the Chief Executive

A Sample Schedule

Note that, more important than doing an evaluation at a certain scheduled time, is doing an evaluation at all, so do the evaluation when the Board believes is the best time for its members.


Approx. # of months before start of next fiscal year
Evaluate the Chief Executive, by referencing his or her progress towards last fiscal year's organizational goals and responsibilities on their job description


Board self-evaluation


Board retreat to address results of Board self-evaluation, conduct any team building and begin strategic planning


Strategic planning to produce organizational goals and identify resources needed to accomplish the goals


Establish Chief Executive's goals for the next fiscal year, by referencing goals produced from strategic planning


Establish next year's revenue goals and budget by referencing resources needed to reach strategic goals


Meets revenue goals


Fiscal year begins


Special Considerations

1. Don't worry about specifics of the process as much as being sure that the evaluation is conducted yearly.
2. Be sure the process is fully documented in a procedure so the process is well understood and carried out consistently year to year.
3. If staff members are involved in evaluation of the Chief Executive, be sure this procedure is clearly specified and understood by the Chief Executive.
4. The evaluation should be carried out by a Board committee, not by one Board member. Committees might be the Executive Committee, a Personnel Committee or an ad hoc committee.
5. If the Board perceives the Chief Executive to have performance issues, Board members can initiate an evaluation. DO NOT initiate evaluations only when there are perceived issues -- this is abusive. Be sure these perceptions are based on seen behaviors rather than on personality characteristics.

(See "Sample Form for Board's Evaluation of the Chief Executive")

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