Evaluating the performance of the board
Few employees escape the annual or twice-yearly performance review. (0) .....G......The answer is not a great number. And the smaller the company, the fewer checks there are on how well the directors are doing. Some of the largest companies formally assess the performance of their board, but very few new or growing companies have managed to get round to establishing any such procedure.
Many business experts believe, however, that it is important for all companies to review the performance of the board. (8) .............Another reason is that the board itself needs information on how well it is doing, just as much as other employees do. For the chief executive, appraisal of some sort is absolutely essential for his or her own sake and for the good of the company. Indeed, many of those who have reached this level remark on how lonely the job of chief executive is and how few opportunities they get to discuss issues relating to it.
There is some evidence to show that once smaller companies put a board appraisal process in place, they find this process relatively easy to operate. (9) .............Their counterparts in larger organisations, however, are often afraid that appraisals could be a challenge to their status.
So, how should companies assess their board? (10) .............At a very basic level,this could simply mean getting all the directors to write down what they have achieved and how they can improve on it. At the other end of the scale is the full '360-degree' appraisal. Here, each director is appraised in a systematic manner by a combination of the chairman and fellow directors.
In the largest companies there are many methods for assessing the board. A number of such companies have self-assessment schemes. The chairman may meet each board member individually to ask how things are going, in a fairly informal way. The whole board might also meet to talk about its progress in open session. (11).............These might ask for people's opinions on the board's main tasks or on how well the committees are working.
Research indicates there has been some improvement in the way the appraisal of board members is conducted. (12) .............The chairman will have been involved directly or indirectly in the appraisal of all members of the board. Whose job is it, then, to appraise the chairman?
A It is often the case that the directors of such companies are even happy to receive criticism, as this can prevent them from making basic mistakes.
B The rest of the workforce sees it as unfair if the directors are the only members of the company to escape appraisal.
C These are encouraging as they put a limit on the power of the chairman to assess fellow directors.
D Alternatively, questionnaires might be distributed to directors, forming the basis for future discussion.
E One issue remains, however, when all the others have been dealt with.
F It is generally agreed that it is the chairman's responsibility to ensure the regular appraisal of each member of the board.
G However, one wonders how many companies have in place a formal appraisal process for their board of directors.