Tag Archive: board evaluation

Tools & Insights for Effective Board and Director Evaluations

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The practice of conducting full-board, committee, and/or individual-director evaluations has largely become commonplace. Ninety percent of respondents to the 2016─2107 NACD Public Company Governance Survey: Aggregate Results say their companies conduct full-board evaluations. Approximately 78 percent of respondents facilitate committee evaluations, and 41 percent conduct individual director evaluations, the survey finds.

The New York Stock Exchange since 2003 has required listed companies to disclose how their boards address evaluations. Although Nasdaq-listed companies have no such requirements, many conduct these assessments to enhance governance standards. NACD has long been an advocate for routine board, committee, and individual-director evaluations as part of a larger strategy of continuous improvement.

In keeping with these listing requirements and recommendations from our research, NACD recently created the Resource Center on Board Evaluations. Resource centers are repositories for NACD content, services, and events related to top-of-mind issues for directors. In these resource centers, individuals can find practical guidance, tools, and analyses on subjects varying from board diversity to cyber-risk oversight. Below we have highlighted a sample of helpful materials from our new board-evaluations resource center.

Thought Leadership & Research

The Report of the NACD Blue Ribbon Commission on Board Evaluation: Improving Director Effectiveness explores how boards and directors can use self- and peer-assessments to enhance board performance and director effectiveness. The report emphasizes that, while there is no one-size-fits-all approach to board evaluations, a commitment to ongoing assessments is indispensable when it comes to enhancing  corporate governance practices and performance.

Expert Commentary

The NACD Directorship magazine article “The Argument for Yearly Board Evaluations” by Salvatore Melilli, national audit industry leader for private markets at KPMG, examines the importance of assessments specifically for private company boards. Less than half (48%) of respondents to the 2016─2017 NACD Private Company Governance Survey say their boards conduct full-board evaluations.  Melilli’s article highlights several reasons why evaluations are critical to improving oversight evaluations. They can help vet company and board culture, identify gaps in talent or skillsets, and streamline processes for the board to engage in difficult conversations with the executive team.

Boardroom Tools & Templates

This resource center’s boardroom tools and templates are segmented by evaluation type—full-board, committee, and individual-director levels. The tools offer questions and considerations that help boards and directors ask questions that can drive healthy conversations about strengths and areas of improvement.

Videos & Webinars

An NACD video series featured in the resource center focuses on the role board evaluations play in improving governance practices. One video in the series, called “Why Confidentiality is Key,” focuses on the benefits of confidentiality in the evaluation process. Another video, “Transform Insight into Action,” discusses the value of creating tailored educational or development programs based on insights that emerge from evaluations.

If you would like help finding resources on a specific subject matter, please let us know. We welcome the opportunity to engage with directors on pressing needs and concerns.

Most Popular NACD Blog Posts of 2012

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Here are some of 2012’s most popular NACD Blog posts as measured by unique page views.

  1. Self-Reflection: Three Questions Boards Must Answer. Three essential questions drive the assessment process.
  2. PCAOB Weighs Pros and Cons of Mandatory Audit Firm Rotation. Alex Mandl, chairman of Dell’s audit committee, spoke on behalf of NACD at the PCAOB’s public meeting last March to share the director perspective.
  3. Five Boardroom Deficiencies: Early Warning Signals. At NACD’s Director Professionalism course in Charlotte, N.C., faculty member Michael Pocalyko listed the five boardroom deficiencies he has observed in almost every recent corporate failure.
  4. Undertaking an Honest Self-Assessment: Is Your Board Aligned? How boards conduct the assessments starting with the questions in post #1.
  5. Five Takeaways From Conference. The five takeaways from the 2012 Annual Board Leadership Conference, according to NACD’s Research team.
  6. Alphabet Soup: A Director’s Guide to Financial Literacy and the ABCs of Accounting and Auditing. Alexandra Lajoux’s guide to the seven roadblocks that impede understanding of accounting and auditing standards.
  7. An Update From the SEC. A mid-year update on SEC rules largely affecting the compensation committee.
  8. Five Guiding Points for Directors in the Digital Age of Corporate Governance. Former BD Chairman and CEO Ed Ludwig’s fundamentals for achieving sustainable long-term shareholder value creation.
  9. NACD Spearheads Alternative Solution to Mandatory Audit Firm Rotation. The collaborative effort to develop an alternative solution to PCAOB’s proposed rule mandating audit firm rotation.
  10. PCAOB’s Proposed Mandatory Audit Firm Rotation Misses the Point. NACD President and CEO Ken Daly on why mandating audit firm rotation will not necessarily improve auditor independence and objectivity.

How C-Suite Perspectives Can Strengthen Board Performance

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Over the past two decades, I’ve worked with an array of boards in multiple capacities—serving as general counsel, secretary, board advisor and board member.

In my current role as general counsel and head of NACD’s Board Advisory Services, I’ve had the opportunity to counsel and facilitate board evaluations for companies ranging from large family-run businesses to the top of the Fortune 500. Over the years, I’ve concluded: no board evaluation is truly holistic without some form of feedback from senior management.

The management team’s participation in the evaluation process creates a critical 360° view that often brings to light factors that are limiting the board’s ability to operate at peak performance. This approach can naturally raise some very sensitive issues between executives and directors. Yet my belief that anonymous, candid input from the management team is essential to a complete and credible evaluation remains constant.

The insights and information that the c-suite and beyond provide are invaluable. Not only does the input enhance the quality and validity of the evaluation, it typically uncovers information that will directly lead to concrete action steps to improve alignment between the board and senior management.

There are a couple of important dynamics that the evaluation process commonly uncovers:

Talent vs. Engagement

  • In more cases than not, management teams believe they have strong assets on the board. Yet they often find that some very qualified directors are not as engaged as they could be. The company is not fully benefiting from the wisdom and unique experience these talented advisors bring to the table.
  • Often, management sees—and reports to my team—that one or two strong personalities on the board dominate meetings, limiting the opportunity for others to contribute.

Tactics vs. Strategy 

  • Many directors tend to drill down into tactical issues, moving away from the real responsibility of the board to provide strategic direction. The board may not realize how serious the issue is until the management team reveals the extent to which that misplaced focus hinders their ability to get things done.
  • Conversely, boards often find that it’s the management team that spends too much of the meeting focused on operational minutiae, trapping them in “PowerPoint hell.” With limited time for the full board to meet, the agenda should be devoted to the most critical strategic opportunities and risks facing the company. Operational and tactical issues should be reserved for the committees.
  • Interestingly, we’ve often found that the reason for this is that management tends to drive meeting agendas, which naturally results in a focus on operational issues. In most cases, management would welcome collaboration with the board on defining the agenda to ensure the board’s time is devoted to strategic discussion and risk oversight.

We recognize that giving management a voice in a board evaluation process can be extremely sensitive for both the board and management.  To facilitate the most valuable and practicable outcomes from board evaluations, NACD’s approach ensures that feedback is completely anonymous with no risk of attribution. Our approach of weaving the results into strategic education lowers defensive barriers, enabling the “ah-ha moments” that focus the entire process on solutions rather than criticism.

Unless c-suite-boardroom disconnects are brought to light, they can fester and potentially jeopardize the organizational mission. Done right, the management team’s involvement in board evaluation clarifies expectations and fosters a healthier collaborative environment.

My experience has led me to conclude that senior management has a sincere desire to capitalize on the wisdom, leadership and unique business experience of each and every board member. By involving the management team in the evaluation process, boards capitalize on management’s expertise in the same way. Result: the organization’s full intellectual capital is leveraged for the collective benefit.