Your chamber board members play a pivotal role in guiding your organization toward success. If they’re not doing an adequate job of meeting expectations, the whole chamber suffers. While it’s tempting to sit back and wait for their term to expire, you’ll lose valuable time. And why lose as much as two years waiting to fill their space when you could find a better fit now? You could turn things around quicker with the implementation of a board review. Put the mechanism in place now for a healthier board in the long run.
Additionally, reviews aren’t always about ousting someone who isn’t working out. A review can help ensure everyone understands expectations and is working toward a common goal.
Types of Chamber Board Member Reviews
Just like an employee evaluation, there are several types of board reviews you can conduct and each has its own merits.
- Inclusive board review. This type of review examines your board’s effectiveness as a whole. It answers questions like: How well are the board members functioning together? How much do they know about the chamber and its mission? Does it have defined goals? How are they executing those goals? This type of review does not single anyone out. Rather it uncovers whether the board has the training and resources it needs to be successful. It’s an ideal review to have prior to (or during) a board retreat.
- Board member self-evaluation. This performance review is conducted by the board members themselves. They reflect on how well they met expectations. This evaluation helps them set (or receive) goals or priorities for the upcoming year. Plus, see how they progressed from the previous one. The completed evaluation can be shared with the executive committee and/or the CEO. Conversely, it could be used only by the member for self-reflective purposes. Finally, it can be used for talking points about additional education or instruction needed.
- Board member evaluation. A board member evaluation may be performed in conjunction with a self-evaluation or on its own by the executive committee. Implementing a periodic/scheduled evaluation can help a board member better understand expectations. It can also provide a turnaround point if there are concerns about the board member’s performance.
Since board members are volunteers, many chambers don’t think about reviews until there is a problem. At that point, it can feel awkward having a review. The board member may feel singled out. So, instituting the process in a proactive way, instead of a reactive one, is a good strategy. Consult your bylaws to see what is written about board reviews. If there isn’t anything stipulated, consider adding reviews to your chamber processes. Here’s why:
The Importance of Board Member Reviews
The review of board members isn’t merely an administrative formality. It’s a strategic process that shapes the board’s efficiency, aligns goals, and fosters continuous improvement.
The average chamber board member serves three years. Terms are usually staggered, so that no more than ⅓ of the Board turns over in any given year. This ensures a nice mixture of organizational experience and new ideas in the chamber board. Board reviews are even more important if your chamber allows board members to complete multiple terms. Understanding how to conduct a thorough review of a board member, coupled with methods for self-assessment, is fundamental for optimizing performance and ensuring the board’s collective success.
Here are a few reasons why board reviews enhance your chamber’s operations:
Alignment with Expectations
A structured review process enables the alignment of board members’ actions with the organization’s vision, mission, and strategic objectives. It provides an avenue to discuss roles, responsibilities, and goals, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
Reviews facilitate constructive feedback. This can highlight areas of improvement for individual board members. A feedback loop is instrumental in fostering personal and professional growth. Additionally, younger people want feedback. If you’re trying to recruit Gen Y and Z to your board, knowing they’ll receive periodic assessments and conversations on their progress may be intriguing for them.
Accountability and Transparency
Regular reviews establish a culture of accountability within the board. It ensures every member understands their responsibilities and is transparent about their contributions. This also makes it clear that a board position is not just a figurehead post but one that is entrusted with responsibilities and expectations.
By conducting periodic reviews, boards can identify strengths and weaknesses, allowing for continuous enhancement of the board’s collective performance and effectiveness.
Timing for Board Reviews
The ideal time to hold a board review is when you have the time to do it. But since that rarely happens in a chamber (right?), you need to make time and schedule it. A good time for board reviews may be the end of the year. An end-of-year review also helps set expectations for new board members coming on. They’ll see you having a touch base with existing board members and that encourages open communication. Reviewing outgoing board members may also promote greater transparency.
How to Conduct a Chamber Board Member Review
The following ideas can help give some structure to the review process. You don’t need to perform a 360-degree review unless you want to. Some chambers simply encourage board members to review themselves as a knowledge exercise. On the other hand, some may use the reviews for evaluation purposes in deciding whether the board member will be considered for renewal or not.
Establish Clear Evaluation Criteria
Define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) criteria against which board members will be evaluated. These criteria could include attendance, participation, contribution to discussions, expertise, leadership, and commitment to the Chamber’s mission.
Utilize Multiple Evaluation Methods
Combine quantitative and qualitative methods for a comprehensive 360-degree assessment. Surveys, peer reviews, self-assessments, and one-on-one interviews can provide diverse perspectives on a board member’s performance.
Schedule Regular Review Sessions
Set a predetermined schedule for board member reviews. This ensures consistency and predictability. Annual reviews or bi-annual assessments can help maintain a continuous feedback loop.
Encourage Open Communication
Create a safe space for honest and open dialogue during the review process. Emphasize constructive criticism aimed at improvement rather than personal judgment.
Document and Follow-Up
Document the outcomes of the reviews. Highlight areas of strength and improvement. Develop action plans collaboratively to address identified areas needing development and follow up on progress made during subsequent reviews.
Self-Review Strategies for Board Members
One of the challenges of a review is the potential disconnect between how one thinks they are doing versus how others think they are doing. What actions they see as helpful to the chamber may actually be making it more inefficient. However, if this disconnect is not handled and communicated properly, the board member (or others watching the discussion) may be hesitant to contribute in the future.
If there is a significant gap between a board member and the rest of the board or the chamber executive committee, the review process can help bring more background to light, address the gaps with a little more thought and tact, and praise the things they agree on, therefore allowing for a more proactive and less emotional discussion.
A basic self-review does the following:
1. Provides Reflection and Goal Setting
Encourage board members to reflect on their performance and set personal development goals aligned with the Chamber’s objectives. This self-assessment can provide invaluable insights.
2. Examines Past Actions
Analyze past decisions and contributions. Assessing the outcomes of their actions helps board members understand their impact and areas needing refinement.
3. Encourages Continuous Learning
Help provide ongoing education and professional development from a chamber industry perspective. Staying updated with industry trends and best practices is crucial for effective board service.
Need an example?
Conducting a comprehensive review of your board members isn’t just a procedural task. It’s also a strategic initiative that fuels growth, ensures accountability, and strengthens support and participation from the community. Additionally, it aligns efforts toward a common vision. Embracing a culture of constructive feedback, both for the board as a whole and individual members, cultivates an environment where continuous improvement is encouraged and expected (something that can be very appealing to younger leaders/board members). By incorporating structured evaluation processes and promoting self-assessment strategies, you can foster a board dynamic that drives your chamber toward sustained success.