Nonprofit Executive Directors Performance

Helping to run a successful Non-Profit Organization (NPO) is difficult during the best of times. However, when there are conflicts among high-ranking board members, board members for many years, or prominent individuals in the community- things can go south exceptionally quickly. Therefore, addressing an underperforming director on your board or resolving a serious issue that requires immediate action can soon become an awkward and uncomfortable discussion for everyone involved. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make it a little more bearable. Keep reading this short article to find out how to deal with your Nonprofit Executive Directors Performance.

Have a conversation about the issue as soon as possible.

Too many board members choose to delay discussing a conflict out of fear of making the matter worse or not feeling comfortable broaching the subject. Many board members believe that if they give the problem enough time, things will naturally resolve themselves. In most cases, this is untrue and can make the issue even more challenging to address in the future because it has been going on for such a long time.

Instead of ignoring a problem, it is best to directly bring your concern to the board’s chairperson as soon as you can. Most people who lead committees usually have ample experience in engaging in challenging conservations and can help with advice on how to proceed without causing things to worsen.

Besides getting good advice, approaching the chairperson first removes most of the burden off of your shoulders and allows the chair to decide when and how to handle the issue going forward.

However, if the problem involves the chairperson or your past complaints have gone unaddressed, you must bring up the problem with other board members in private as soon as it is feasible and agree on the proper way to deal with the problem.

Establish a clear and concise governance framework for dealing with issues.

Your board can avoid many problems from arising in the first place and keep things more civil if they do occur by having a proper and extensive framework for governance in place.

This framework should not only address the day-to-day running of the board. Still, it should include oversight responsibilities, accountability, and established procedures for rectifying any disagreements among the board member.

In addition to spelling out Board members’ expectations, it’s an excellent idea to include agreed-upon corrective measures should board members fail to meet expectations.

When a robust framework is in place, all board members are aware of the consequences of failing to meet performance standards. Should an issue occur, having a guide to follow can mitigate some of the difficulties when discussing and disciplining an underperforming board member.

Ensure a fair conversation.

Although it is probably that any discussion concerning a board member’s performance or behaviour will result in a lively and passionate debate, the board mustn’t resort to anarchy.

Follow your board’s established guidelines for resolving internal issues and ensure that all board members can engage in the discussion. The board member under review must be able to present his side before the board takes any action.

No one wants to deal with an irritable director. Thereby, having a plan makes it much easier for everyone involved.

The importance of monitoring board & nonprofit executive directors performance

Monitoring the board and the nonprofit executive directors’ performance is an important role of the board of directors. More NPOs are assigning a higher priority to this role than in past years.

AMC surveys of NPOs have shown fairly consistent growth in the use of written appraisals of board members (from 11% in 2005 to 26% in 2013), with written appraisals of the CEO being conducted by an average of 70% of NPOs over the same period.

While the AMC surveys of NPOs clearly show that the monitoring of board and volunteer performance is becoming more accepted, there are still a good many NPOs that find it too much of a leap. I recommend that they introduce a Board Performance Self-Evaluation as the first step towards a comprehensive system for those organizations.

This type of self-evaluation could be undertaken, for example, after the board has met several times and then again towards the end of the operational year. A summary of results should flow back to a governance committee that could then use the information to identify training opportunities to improve board performance in certain areas.

The governance committee is a board committee assigned the responsibilities normally given to a nominations committee, plus responsibility for overseeing volunteer appraisals, board appraisals, succession planning, recruiting new directors, and identifying board training opportunities.

Download your free Board performance evaluation form

Help Board members gain clarity on their role
and self-evaluate their performance with AMC‘s board performance self-evaluation form available for download now.

About Tom (TJ) Abbott

Tom (TJ) Abbott, CSP is the Managing Director of AMC NPO Solutions and an authority on Governance. He has over 25 years experience as CEO, President and board director of several not-for-profit organizations. Tom has also spoken in over 20 countries.

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