A rosy tint to board appraisals

A rosy tint to board appraisals

Dr Fiona Underwood takes a sideways look at board appraisals when she puts on rose-tinted glasses.

It’s time to hunt out those rose-tinted specs and settle down to digest the latest feedback from the board on their effectiveness. The annual appraisal time is past, the board has carried out its own self-assessment, individual board appraisals are out of the way and the results are in:

  • Excellent strategic board
  • Good at decision-making
  • Understands the risks and has challenged the executive to make sure the right mitigation is in place
  • Understands and welcomes co-regulation
  • Can conduct their governance at the speed of twitter
  • Fully appreciates, through customer insight information, the impact that welfare reform will have on the organisation, the business plan and also the impact on customers
  • The Chair handles the meetings well, there is suitable challenge and the whole board participates
  • Is diverse, reflects the customer base and has a good gender and age mix.

Excellent news. Next on the reading list is the summary of the individual board appraisals carried out by the Chair: no problems there. 100% attendance, good performance, nothing to worry about, no improvements required, in fact no real improvement plan for the board as a whole or the individual board members.

Now onto the tricky issue of whether to think about adopting the Corporate Code of Governance or stay with the NHF code? For a quick check, let’s have a look at the way the Corporate Code says a board should measure its effectiveness.

‘The board should undertake a formal and rigorous annual evaluation of its own performance and that of its committees and individual directors’

Remarkably similar to the NHF code; but how do you interpret ‘rigorous and formal’? Is self assessment rigorous and formal? Does the Chair having a chat with board members consititute a rigorous and formal individual appraisal? Hmm, not sure we have been rigorous and formal enough.

Next step then, what is good practice? According to those in the know, good practice includes independent challenge both of effectiveness and individual appraisals, bringing to bear knowledge of others from within and outside of the sector, making sure the board has a realistic view of how they are doing and where there are areas that need strengthening and developing; the same applies for individuals where sometimes external challenge, although uncomfortable, is necessary.

Note to self: think about NHF vs. Corporate Code later, better get down to the optician and change the tint on these glasses… next time we’ll do it differently.

For further advice on governance, contact Dr Fiona Underwood, Altair Partner, on: 07788 643092 or fiona.underwood@altairltd.co.uk