Measuring performance is essential for achieving desired results and maintaining organizational health. Over the past two weeks, we’ve outlined the importance of board self-assessment (part one), the first three elements of the BoardSource BSA (part two and part three), and how to utilize the BSA to measure performance in your organization.
Today’s column is the final part of our BSA series. We will conclude with the last aspect of the work section and highlight the impact section.
As outlined last week, the work section includes mission, vision, and strategic direction; funding and public image; program oversight; financial oversight; and chief executive supervision and oversight.
We often say that the most important relationship in any nonprofit organization is that of the board and chief executive. Per BoardSource, “the quality of this relationship is of the utmost importance to the success of the organization.”
The BoardSource BSA creates the opportunity for board members to reflect on the climate of the board. Is it one of mutual trust and respect? Does the chief executive have the authority to lead and manage? Are communications candid and constructive? Is there a focus on strategy and policy versus operations?
These questions are, as BoardSource states, “of utmost importance” because all too often the relationship between a board and chief executive is strained or fractured. Having an annual performance review, cultivating trust, and ensuring that conversations are collegial and productive go a long way in building relationships and ensuring organizational success and impact.
Another aspect of this portion of the BSA includes a question about planning for the absence or departure of the chief executive. Our team spends considerable time talking about succession planning with our clients. We believe deeply that succession planning is a responsibility of the board and that boards must consider various scenarios — both planned and unplanned — related to the departure of a chief executive. When this work is done holistically and strategically, the organization is stronger. If your organization would like to learn more about succession planning, plan on joining us for Huntington Seeds for Growth where we will present on succession planning essentials.
The impact section is the fourth and final element of a BoardSource BSA. It explores organizational performance and the board’s connection to strategy, reputation, and effectiveness.
Just as the board must work in constructive partnership with the chief executive, the board must also understand how to measure impact. Are the programs and services offered meeting the intended outcomes and driving the organization to fulfillment of mission and vision?
Board members must be ambassadors and advocates, furthering the organization’s reputation, but it’s difficult to do that if board members don’t have a full understanding of what the organization does and how it makes a difference in the lives of people and communities served.
These last components of board self-assessment — the relationship board members have with their chief executive and their knowledge of programs and services — are at the heart of nonprofit board governance.
We hope this four-part series inspires your board to conduct a self-assessment and that it will encourage new levels of reflection and insight.