5 Key Elements of a Board Performance Review

Are your board reviews providing you with the right insights? Have you ever wondered why some board performance reviews drive meaningful change while others feel like mere box-ticking exercises? Discover the five key elements behind truly effective board performance reviews. These five key elements will transform reviews into powerful tools to boost board efficiency, identify composition gaps, and enhance management oversight. Read on to discover how to leverage reviews for real, impactful change.

Article Contents

5 Key Elements of a Board Performance Review Image

1. Setting Objectives and Scope for the Performance Review

Evaluating Board Composition

Setting and Managing Board Culture

Improving Board Practices

Planning for Board Succession

“73% of directors believe that conducting a full board or committee review is a fantastic way to promote board refreshment.”PWC, 2018 Annual Corporate Directors Survey

2. Deciding Who and What Should Be Reviewed

The Full Board 

- Collective Performance Evaluation

This kind of evaluation helps spot trends, pinpoint areas for improvement, and ensures the board is aligned with the company’s goals. It’s about making sure they’re delivering value to the management team.

Board Committees 

- Assessing Specific Roles and Functions

Each committee has specific roles, whether it’s audit, risk, remuneration, or nominations. Evaluating these committees involves looking at:

By assessing these areas, you ensure each committee is doing its part in supporting the board’s overall governance​.

Individual Directors 

- Personalised Feedback and Development

Providing personalised feedback to each director is essential for gaining valuable insights into their contributions and identifying areas for personal development. This comprehensive evaluation not only enhances individual performance by pinpointing strengths and areas for improvement but also promotes accountability by ensuring each director is responsible for their actions. Additionally, it facilitates succession planning by identifying potential future leaders and mapping out their development.

This review should cover various aspects, including:

Individual evaluations can be done through self-assessment, peer reviews, and feedback from the chairperson. This approach not only boosts individual performance but also strengthens the board as a whole.

3. Selecting the Right Facilitator to Lead the Review

Accredited Board Reviewer

Providing independent Board Performance Reviews for enhanced Board effectiveness.

About 73% of UK listed companies engage external facilitators to conduct their board evaluations. This trend is driven by the desire for greater objectivity, expertise, and credibility in the evaluation processCGI UK & Ireland

4. Common Formats for Evaluating Board Performance

When it comes to evaluating board performance, there are several methods that can be employed to ensure a thorough and effective review. Each method has its unique strengths and can be tailored to meet the specific needs and objectives of the board.

Here’s a closer look at three primary approaches:

Questionnaires and Surveys 

for Efficient Data Collection

Facilitated Discussions 

for In-Depth Qualitative Insights

Facilitated discussions involve a neutral third-party facilitator guiding a structured conversation among board members.  This method is particularly effective for gaining in-depth qualitative insights into the board’s dynamics, culture, and effectiveness.  

Facilitated discussions allow board members to share their experiences, perspectives, and concerns in a safe and open environment.  The facilitator can probe deeper into specific issues, ensuring that all relevant topics are covered comprehensively.  This method promotes a collaborative approach to identifying areas for improvement and developing action plans to address them.

Individual Interviews 

for Personalised and Detailed Feedback

Individual interviews provide a personalised approach to a board performance evaluation, allowing for detailed feedback from each director.  These one-on-one sessions can be conducted by an internal or external facilitator and offer a confidential setting for directors to express their views on the board’s performance, their contributions, and the effectiveness of their peers.  Interviews can uncover issues that might not surface in group settings, such as interpersonal conflicts or concerns about board processes.  The detailed insights gained from individual interviews can help create targeted development plans for directors and enhance overall board performance.

Ensure your board review process includes both quantitative and qualitive data to provide a holistic view of the Board’s performance.

By combining these methods, boards can comprehensively view their performance.  Questionnaires and surveys provide a broad quantitative assessment, facilitated discussions offer qualitative insights, and individual interviews deliver personalised feedback.  Together, these approaches ensure a well-rounded review process that drives continuous improvement and strengthens the board’s governance capabilities.

5. Effective Follow-Up After the Review

Effective follow-up after a board performance review is crucial for driving real change. Implementing the recommendations from the review is essential; without action, the review becomes a mere box-ticking exercise.

Recommendations that are often include strategic adjustments, process improvements, or shifts in board dynamics. Ignoring these insights can lead to stagnation or even regression in board effectiveness.

Creating a detailed action plan by prioritising recommendations, assigning responsibilities, and setting clear timelines is a good starting point. Including regular check-ins and progress reports keeps everyone accountable and ensures the board stays on track.

Concluding Thoughts

Embracing a comprehensive and well-structured review process, boards can unlock their true potential and drive meaningful improvements.

By incorporating these key elements of a Board Performance Review and with the right approach, these evaluations become invaluable tools for providing constructive feedback and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.  When directors view reviews as opportunities rather than obligations, they open the door to candid conversations and genuine progress.

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Picture of Sharon Constançon
Sharon Constançon

Sharon’s deep understanding of Board behaviours, leadership and regulated industries supports her delivery of truly deep, insightful and practical board evaluations. Sharon is a mentor and coach to Chairmen and Directors and champion of the Company Secretary.

Sharon has an MBA, is a Chartered Director and a Chartered Secretary. She shares her professional journey as a lecturer for the Qualifying Level Boardroom Dynamics course for the Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland. Sharon is on the Court and is Chairman of the Membership Committee of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (WCCSA) and is a member of the International Committee of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI).

She is a contributor to the Risk Coalition and course leader for programmes and seminars run by the Corporate Governance Institute in Ireland.

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