Principle 16

Board members should evaluate their performance as a group and as individuals no less frequently than every three years, and should have clear procedures for removing board members who are unable to fulfill their responsibilities.

A regular process of evaluating the board’s performance can help to identify strengths and weaknesses in processes and procedures, provide insights for strengthening orientation and educational programs and the conduct of board and committee meetings, and identify means to improve interactions between board and staff leadership. Many boards will find it helpful to conduct such a self-assessment annually; others may prefer a schedule that coincides with the terms of board service or regular long-range planning cycles. A number of available print and online tools, ranging from sample self-assessment questionnaires to more complex evaluation procedures, can help an organization design a board evaluation or self-assessment process that best meets its needs.

Many boards assign responsibility for oversight of the board evaluation and development function to their executive committees or to a separate governance or board development committee. Board members with this responsibility should be empowered to discuss problems of attendance or other aspects of board performance with individual members to ascertain whether the problem can be corrected or the individual needs to resign or be removed from the board. The process for removing a non-performing board member is typically outlined in the organization’s bylaws and generally requires the action of the full board or, if the organization has members, the action of its membership.