Board goals define how the board will add value to the organization this year. They’re the mutually agreed upon priorities that outline what will be accomplished, by when, and by whom.
They should include substantive goals for how you will support the work of the organization and should also include your own board development goals to evolve your governance capabilities.
Boards have very important jobs to do and very little time to do them well.
While the required legal and compliance work usually finds a way to get done, the more challenging or longer-term areas of focus that make the organization better won’t get done without intentional and strategic goal-setting. That’s why your board’s goals are integral to achieving success as an organization.
Board goals can — and should — be both operational and aspirational.
Your operational goals are typically tied to the operational elements of your organization that happen year after year. They’ll include conducting an annual audit, approving state-mandated policies, signing off on the monthly financials, and other foundational elements that your organization will do year after year. Many of these will directly tie to your charter agreement.
Your aspirational goals are often the things the organization will get to once they have effectively achieved the operational goals. Aspirational goals may span several years. Any aspirational goal that is too lofty will quickly be dismissed.
If your board is just starting out, especially if you are in the early years of your first charter, it’s ok to focus almost 100% on the operational. In fact, we recommend it. Over time, your board will evolve. You’ll go from focusing on the operational and reactive day-to-day business of being a board to having freed up the time and mental space to think big.
Board goals are not the CEO’s goals.
Your board’s goals will differ from your CEO’s goals. Combined, they’ll help strengthen your board-CEO partnership and help your governance team to meet the organization’s goals.
Your board should have active, engaged committees completing substantive work in between board meetings. Each committee’s work should be guided by a set of board-approved goals. And the committees’ goals, collectively, are your board’s goals. Board goals articulate how the board will add value to the organization this year while the CEO goals articulate the metrics-driven management-level work for the year.
Meanwhile, the CEO’s goals articulate what the CEO is expected to deliver each year. They focus on organizational performance metrics, and often tie directly back to your charter, your accountability plan with your authorizer, and to your annual CEO evaluation. For example: teacher hiring, satisfaction, and retention; parent satisfaction; or test scores.