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Avoid The Top 10 Mistakes Made When Setting Goals

What are the common mistakes boards make when creating board goals? We’ve seen them all.

Below we to show you how to keep from making these 10 most common mistakes.

1. Use data to assess your board. Not assumptions.

Most charter school boards think they’re pretty good.  For instance, when asked about effectiveness, trustees often say something like, “We show up. We have meetings. We get work done. But I guess things could be better.”

BoardOnTrack takes the guesswork out of governance with data-driven tools to measure performance and improvement. Starting with these assessments, and not assumptions, you’re empowered to identify areas for improvement and set goals accordingly.

Comprehensive Annual Assessment:

Each year, the full board and the CEO or school leader completes BoardOnTrack’s built-in comprehensive annual assessment.  

The tool measures everything it takes to be an exceptional board, from board meetings to the financial and academic oversight, to board-CEO partnership.

Your results present a clear picture of the board’s strengths and areas to improve, showing where you are in your path to excellence {that’s BoardOnTrack’s own capability maturity model for charter boards}.

This data is your guidepost for goal-setting. It’s how you set goals that support measurable board development. There’s always a higher bar to reach. But you’ve got to know where that bar is in order to do the work to reach it!

Learn more about the BoardOnTrack path to excellence for charter boards here.

2. Create real goals — not just placeholders to check a box.

Your board’s goals are real. They’re not placeholders. They’re not just ideas on paper. They are commitments that drive the board’s work.

Some boards seem to suffer from a fear of commitment. If locking in to goals for a full year feels daunting, consider this: it’s better to have goals that you adjust along the way than to brush them aside.

Create your goals not just because you know you’re supposed to. Do the work to ensure the goals are real and actionable. If you need help, follow the steps in this post!

3. Make room for the aspirational, not just the operational.

Successful boards strive to do more than just check the boxes. Yes, someone needs to ensure the lights are kept on. But the absolute basic functional and legal requirements should become operational. Meaning, they should be operationalized so fully that they no longer require your board’s time and attention at the level that fits an organizational, board, or committee goal.

Even at the very beginning, when it feels like there’s so much operational detail to straighten out, you’ve got to keep some room for the aspirational.

The board is expected to add value in ways outside of the operational requirements of the day-to-day. Over time, you’ll learn how to be more strategic. But only if you agree to what that looks like, and set goals to achieve it.

6. Don’t agonize over the wording.  

Don’t fall into the trap of over-analyzing the definition of the goal and making it fancier than it needs to be. Also, don’t get hung up on the semantics of what is an objective vs a key results vs a goal. The words do not have to be perfect. They have to be clear. They have to say what you intend. But they do not need to be Shakespeare. The key is to set stakes in the ground and get moving. The Goals dashboard built into BoardOnTrack simpur Goals Tracker to be very simple, elegant project management for a board — simple goals and tasks that’s it.

7. Evaluate your progress and reassess your goals regularly.

WIthout regular meeting time designated to see where you stand on committee goals, tasks can get behind and even abandoned. Have honest and frank discussions about what’s realistic to accomplish and what’s not. Avoiding the hard conversations doesn’t serve anyone.

8. Build in accountability.

It is imperative that you each hold individual team members accountable for their tasks and other responsibilities. Governance teams achieve great things when each player does their part.

9. Stick with your goals, even when things get tough.

It’s better to adjust your goals when things come up during the year than to abandon them. You most certainly won’t succeed if you abandon your goals when things start to get difficult. Instead, sync up as a team to reflect on your progress, where things are getting bogged down, and recalibrate as needed. This step is vital in success. It is ok to pivot but let it be because it is how you’ll achieve the goal, not because you are running away from it.

10. Your committees have got to do real work. They’re not committees in name only.

How do you know your committees are doing real work? Active committee work takes place in between board meetings, helping the whole board do more.

Each one of your committees should be meeting monthly, to champion and move the ball further down the field for each one of their assigned goals. They’ll come back to the full board meetings able to provide informative updates, ask strategic questions, and keep the governance team confident that appropriate progress is being made.

If you’ve appointed strong committee chairs, and staffed your committees with the right people, this should be a given. But a board management platform like BoardOnTrack certainly can help ensure the right work is happening — and that people are being held accountable.

Jump start your productivity and effectiveness with your goals this year. Avoid these 10 most common mistakes when setting goals for your board with the advice above.

 

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