In addition to a formal end-of-year evaluation, based on clear measurable goals and metrics, BoardOnTrack recommends that the CEO and the board convene for at least two other dedicated check-in/feedback discussions during the course of the year: one in November and one in March.
The purpose of these conversations is to:
- Ensure that the CEO is able to identify for the board the key challenges they are facing
- Create a structured time for the board to provide the CEO with feedback about their leadership and their partnership with the board
- Create a structured time for the CEO to provide the board with feedback on their partnership with the board
Recommended Steps to Prepare for Check-ins:
- Set dates/process timeline for two check-in conversations now (BoardOnTrack recommends late November/early December for the first check-in and March for the second).
- Form a CEO evaluation and support task force.
- Should be comprised of 2 to 4 board members
- Should include the board chair
- Four weeks out from check-in, a taskforce should query the board at a meeting in executive session or via email or phone for ideas/input for feedback conversation. Questions for board member to offer input on could include:
- What do you think the CEO is doing exceptionally well on this year?
- What do you think they could be doing better on this year?
- If they were going to work on one or two things for the coming three months, what would you want them to be?
- Of the goals set for the CEO at the beginning of the year:
- Which ones do you feel confident he or she will achieve?
- Which ones are you most worried about them achieving?
- What, if any, steps can you see the CEO MUST take in order to achieve the goals are you concerned most about?
- Is there anything from any of the data on organizational performance (academic, school culture, family satisfaction, staff satisfaction, or financial) that surprised or concerned you? If so, what was it and what do you see as being the key steps the CEO should take to address the issue?
- What, if anything, do you see that the board could be doing to better support the CEO in achieving the goals set for the year?
- Is there any other feedback that you would like to make sure gets communicated to the CEO?
- Three weeks out from the check-in, the taskforce should meet to distill the board’s input and plan out the conversation.
- Two weeks out from the check-in, the taskforce can consider sending the CEO some reflection questions to consider before the conversation, such as:
- What are three things you think are going well for you and for the school so far this year?
- What are three things that you think could be going better for you and for the school so far this year?
- Of the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year:
- Which ones do you feel confident you will achieve?
- Which ones are you most worried about achieving?
- What, if any, steps do you see as being most essential to achieving the goals are you concerned most about?
- Has there been anything to date in the school’s data (academic results, school culture, family satisfaction, staff satisfaction, or financial) that you have been disappointed in or are concerned about? If so, what do you see as the next step to address these issues?
- What, if anything, do you see that the board could be doing to more effectively support you in reaching the goals set for the year?
- One week out from the check-in the CEO should send a written response to the reflection questions to the CEO Support/Evaluation Taskforce.
Recommended Process for Check-ins:
- Remind the CEO of the purposes for the conversation.
- Ask the CEO to share their answers to the reflection questions above
- Be sure to talk through each annual goal and its current status.
- Wherever possible, help the CEO to identify clear steps he or she could take to address any challenges.
- Listen for and suggest places where the board could support the CEO being ever mindful to preserve the boundaries between management and governance roles.
- When the CEO has said what they have to say regarding the reflection questions, make sure to give any feedback from the board that has not yet been covered. If you are lucky, a lot will already been addressed. For feedback that hasn’t yet been addressed, you could broach it by saying something like, “As we said one of our purposes here is to ensure that you get feedback to help you achieve the goals we have set for the organization. To help you do that, the board feels it is important that we give clear feedback during the year.” Then, share a few commendations on things the board feels the CEO is doing well as well as any key pieces of constructive feedback that have not yet been broached.
To conclude the check-in, THB highly recommends that a written document be created outlining the key points discussed in the check-in. This document along with the CEO’s responses to the self-reflection questions should be shared with the full board.