Evaluating the Chief Executive

Many of the nonprofit chief executives we meet lament that they do not get ongoing feedback from their boards, or receive regular annual performance reviews. It’s hard for leaders to achieve their personal best when they lack feedback on which to base their development. This is particularly true for chief executives, who can be more isolated than other nonprofit executives.

All too often, board leadership fails to regularly evaluate the chief executive. Over the years, board chairs have shared a variety of reasons for this over the years:

“We know she is doing a good job, so we just tell her informally and give her a salary increase.”

“It takes too much time, and it’s too difficult because we are not there to observe him day to day.”

“We don’t hear any complaints from staff or funders, and the organization runs in the black, so why do we need to engage in a time consuming formal process?”

Boards may think they know how the chief executive is really doing, but they frequently lack comprehensive information that presents a full picture of the chief executive’s performance. Staff who report to the executive director rarely contact board members with feedback until the individual exhibits egregious behavior.

Conducting an annual review of the chief executive is an important component of good board governance. Working with the chief executive to ensure that performance management systems are in place for all staff is a nonprofit management best practice. Most importantly, however, evaluating the chief executive can provide helpful information that will enable the leader to grow and develop their skills and competencies in the oversight of the staff and the organization. Why not choose to have a leader who is continually learning and growing, and has rich feedback to help shape that growth?

One simple, yet effective way to evaluate the chief executive is through the use of multi-rater, or 360° feedback. Rich and balanced feedback is gathered from peers/colleagues, direct reports, the board chair, and external stakeholders. The process can include a survey, individual interviews or both; feedback can be gathered anonymously or openly.

Gathering a set of rich and robust feedback for the chief executive can be invaluable to that person’s growth and development, and to the vitality and sustainability of the organization. Additionally, it sends a strong message to staff and the extended board that the organization takes performance management and leadership development seriously.

We have created The Essential 360 Leadership Assessment, a new online multi-rater feedback survey, to enable boards to evaluate their chief executive in a productive and cost-effective way. Available from Rosewood Consulting Group in conjunction with TransitionWorks, the survey is easy to administer and collects a rich set of data on eight key areas of leadership competence:

  • Personal/Interpersonal
  • Communication
  • People Orientation
  • Team Orientation
  • Stakeholder Orientation
  • Strategic Orientation
  • Productivity/Proactivity
  • Professionalism

The survey also contains several narrative questions designed to provide comprehensive feedback and recommendations about the leader’s strengths and developmental needs. Most importantly, we work with you and your chief executive to implement and manage the feedback process to ensure successful goal-setting.

To learn more about how to effectively evaluate the chief executive and The Essential 360 Leadership AssessmentContac us