IN THIS ISSUE
Time for Whistleblower Protection in Associations?
Look Out! Environmental Scanning for Associations
Building Trust Between Boards and Staff
Customer Service in Member Based Associations
Changing eStrategy Context for Associations
To Make New Members Feel Welcome
Executive Coaches Offer Associations a New Game Plan
A Virtual Success
Change Management with Peter de Jaeger
Customer Relationships with Paul Ward
TOOLS, TIPS AND RESOURCES
Effective CEO Evaluation
“The only way a
board of directors can base its confidence in its
executive director upon solid, demonstrated fact is
through the mechanism of appropriate supervision. Few
things can be worse than a board unsure of its
expectations of its chief staff officer, and this same
executive not knowing what his or her employer really
wants accomplished …performance evaluation is probably
the most mutually beneficial of all forms of appropriate
Evaluation: Bane? Or Boon?
Why evaluate the CEO?
The performance of the CEO, and the
relationship between the CEO and the Board, are critical
factors in successful governance and fulfillment of the
Because the CEO directly influences the
success and financial performance of the organization, it
is imperative for the board of directors to set
performance standards, and then objectively and fairly
evaluate the performance of its CEO against those
standards. This should be one of the board’s key
Yes, it may take up time and it could
prove challenging for some board members, undertaking a
regular and formal performance evaluation will
ultimately save the board time and enhance the performance
of the CEO.
There are many reasons for implementing a
formal CEO evaluation process. A well-designed and
implemented process can:
Contribute to the Board meeting its duty
to effectively lead the organization.
Ensure organizational goals are being
Allow the Board and the CEO to
understand each other’s expectations about performance
Highlight areas where the Board is
Ensure continued development of the CEO
to more effectively conduct his or her role.
Ensure a formal and documented
evaluation process that meets standards of fairness and
Provide a written record of the Board's
impression of the CEO's performance.
Mirror the Board’s expectation that the
CEO will ensure evaluation of other staff.
If there are so many good reasons to
undertake regular formal appraisals of the CEO, why is it
that so many organizations are not doing so?
There are numerous reasons why
well-meaning and conscientious Boards do not implement a
formal evaluation process:
Board members may feel uncomfortable in
a role that may involve criticism of an individual on
whom the organization relies.
A process of formal evaluation may be
easily deferred by the pressures of immediate issues and
In cases where evaluations have not been
occurring, the CEO may perceive the initiation of a
performance evaluation as a sign that the Board now
lacks trust or confidence in his or her performance.
Task-oriented Board members may resist
devoting time to a process of this nature.
Board members may lack the skills or
tools to undertake effective evaluations.
The CEO does not request or insist on a
The whole organization generally lacks
formal policies and processes.
There is not an organizational emphasis
on planning or evaluation – either of the Board,
organization performance, or staff.
The Board may be dysfunctional and/or
experiencing high turnover.
The CEO may lack a job description and
there may be no formal plan or performance targets.
The CEO may be dominating the Board,
rather than being accountable to the Board.
It wasn’t effective the last time around
so why do it.
Getting by the obstacles to evaluating the
CEO is not enough. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for
the process to fail and/or participants in the evaluation
process to be dissatisfied with the results. The failure
to undertake an effective evaluation process can come at a
significant cost to the organization, but so can the
failure of an evaluation effort.
Tips for An Effective Process
Start the process with mutually
understood expectations that are clearly articulated at
the beginning of the evaluation period (based on job
description, strategic plan, performance criteria,
Commit to open and honest communication.
Maintain strict confidentiality, because
you are dealing a person’s career. Performance issues
should not become public information.
Be sure the process positively impacts
the CEO. Focus on the positive as well as areas
Strike a small committee of board
members to take the lead in conducting the evaluation.
Nevertheless, it is important that all Board members
have input into the process (e.g. through an evaluation
The committee (or the Board) and CEO
should develop the process together.
The process should begin with the CEO
submitting a self-evaluation to the committee.
Separate the evaluation process from
salary negotiations. Keep in mind that a key purpose of
the evaluation process is performance improvement.
Be careful before involving staff or
other volunteers in the process (such as through a 360°
evaluation process. If the source of feedback is
expanded, it is best done in the context of an
organizational review, and not just as a review of the
CEO. Of course, the CEO can decide for themselves if he
or she wishes to seek feedback from staff for their own
personal and professional development.
Use benchmarks of organizational success
as indicators of your CEO’s performance (and with Policy
Governance, the results of the Board's monitoring
Take into account the CEO's personal
goals and needs regarding future leadership. If you only
focus on the organization's needs, then the CEO could
seek to fulfill those needs elsewhere.
Provide a written evaluation to the CEO,
but also hold an evaluation meeting with the CEO to
discuss the evaluation and ensure full understanding and
After the meeting, provide the full
board with an oral in-camera report.
The final step is to evaluate the
process. Make it an objective to improve the process
And, of course, it is important to
remember that ongoing feedback throughout the year is also
essential. An annual evaluation is not sufficient!
Annual Evaluation of the Executive Director, Board
Cafe, September 1999.
Hiring and Performance Appraisal of the Executive
Director, Muttart Foundation and Board Development
Program (Alberta Community Development, Government of
Evaluating the Performance of the Association Chief CEO,
Association Forum of Chicagoland, 2003.
Wayne Amundson is president of Association Xpertise
Inc., a consulting firm serving associations and
non-profits. He is also a writer and speaker on
association and non-profit management and governance,
and is editor of The Canadian Association e-zine and
co-author of the new “Primer for Directors of
Not-for-Profit Corporations” published by the Industry
Canada and three non-profit umbrella groups in Canada.
Phone: 403-374-1822 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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