How to establish a sustainable board evaluation process

BoardClic is the leading digital platform for board and CEO evaluations. Our powerful digital platform allows boards to track performance, alignment and composition over time – enabling them to make informed decisions and achieve their full potential.

27 April, 2020
Article by: BoardClic

A process to evaluate your board, your CEO or your management team is crucial for sustainable development in your company. Everyone in an organisation, from the chairman to half-time employees, require feedback on their performance in order to develop – both on an individual and a collective level. Without a steady cognitive operation that develops your people, how can they in turn develop the business? 

Setting up a stable feedback loop that involves leaders and executives can be challenging. The complexity of corporate governance often result in haphazard solutions, which adds to the issue. The conservative all-in approach to evaluating top teams involves external consultants, thousands of dollars and hours of commitment. But time is scarce and resources are limited – especially for smaller organisations.

On the bright side we are making our way through an increasingly digital age, which makes establishing a sustainable system easier than ever.

Why am I conducting a board evaluation?

To build an evaluation process from scratch, one must first consider the ambition behind it. What do I want to accomplish? Do I see challenges or am I mostly focused on improving performance?

There are normally four grounds for conducting an evaluation; regulation and compliance, performance development, composition analysis or obstacle management. All carry requirements as to how the evaluation is executed. You may need one that ticks the boxes of regulations, one that is aimed at aligning and advancing your team or one that identifies areas of improvement and potential growth. However, when building a long-term and sustainable process, you need one that covers all exits.

How do I choose the right evaluation tool?

One of the biggest challenges in creating a sustainable evaluation process is choosing your toolbox. Do I use an external consultancy or do I go for a modern, digital platform? How much am I prepared to pay – both in time and money?

A consultancy will initiate an extensive, usually months-long evaluation that includes phone calls, meetings, interviews and presentations, plus quite the monetary investment. If done well, however, it will be a thorough investigation of all aspects of your team, including guided hand-holding from start to finish. You definitely get what you pay for.

This option isn’t much of a reality for smaller organisations, mainly since the money required is often not in their budget. For larger ones, consultancy services have been the go-to strategy for a long while. They can afford it, and frankly there haven’t existed many other options on the market up until now.

However, what a large organisation – or any organisation for that matter – cannot afford is time. Spending hours discussing schedules for interviews, meetings and presentations, and then months conducting them, is not a viable route toward a sustainable process. And seeing as time equals money, it ends up being quite expensive.

To a digital solution there are two sides of the spectrum. There are some that, whilst usually free, provide you with basic “survey functionalities” and a way to compile answers in a report of sorts. Other solutions, whilst charging a small fee, offer a more content-based approach; researched questions, industry experience, and computer-analysed results delivered in user-friendly reports.

What the two sides have in common is cost-effectiveness and time-efficiency. You pay relatively little (or nothing at all), the process is straightforward and your results are only a few clicks away.

How do I establish a sustainable evaluation process?

The keyword here is “sustainable”. The definition of the word is “the ability of a system to exist constantly at a cost, in a universe that evolves”. A sustainable operation is one that is maintained over time and meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability to meet the needs of the future.

To establish a sustainable and effective process you first need to identify your prerequisites (ambition, finance and time) and decide on a toolbox that suits those needs. Secondly, combine your prerequisites with these cornerstones of efficient evaluation:

  • You should conduct a board and CEO evaluation at least once a year – on a regular basis. This allows for the identification of trends and improvements over time, and lays the very foundation for your evaluation process. Also, evaluating both the board and the CEO will give you a clear picture of the synergy between them.
  • The quality of an evaluation depends on the content of the survey and how it’s presented. It’s important that it contains questions and statements that are based on research, a proven concept and experience.
  • There should be an easy way for you to compare an evaluation against one from a previous occasion. By doing this you will be able to visualise identified trends and improvements, which is essential for a constructive feedback loop.
  • Ensure that the solution you decide on delivers information and insights in a digestible format. Analysing raw data on your own is often time-consuming and prone to human error.
  • Measuring alignment between participants is key to understanding how they best work together. Adopt a tool that can track alignment of both opinion and priorities to paint a fact-based picture.
  • We suggest sharing the feedback with your fellow colleagues – both as a group and on an individual level – as it creates the best foundation for engagement in the next evaluation round.

The evaluation process you create should cover your own goals, your leaders’ requirements and potential local regulations – but make it as seamless as you can for yourself. Choosing a toolbox that combines value with sustainability and taking advantage of digitalisation are important things to keep in mind.