Many kudos to you as a board of directors if you have already conducted a Performance Evaluation of your Executive Director this year.
If you haven’t even considered it or maybe even deliberately shoved it down the priority list, I’m about to share how your organization can get an renewed edge, get higher quality output and make your Executive a happier professional. If this sounds appealing, please read on.
Historically, executive performance evaluations have been disliked not only by boards but also by the executive. One key reason is that the evaluation has been structured, perceived and used as a tool to sit in judgment on the Executive’s performance. Boards don’t like to do that and executives like it even less. Better structured processes are not perceived this way and result in significantly better conversations, which incidentally is one of the reasons you’d want to do an evaluation on a regular basis. If you are seeking a solid process, may I suggest you search our blog archive for a great one called “Evaluate your Executive in 7 Steps”. Additionally, our on-line store offers an Executive Director Evaluation Tool if you need a better incentive (it’s half price if you are one of our members).
However, the intent of this blog post is one of exploring why.
Performance evaluations are all about getting better. As skilled, visionary, personable and professionally engaging as your Executive is, they can improve. In fact, we at Nonprofit Network invest much of our work with professionals telling us they want to get better. And as a member of the board, you want the very best Executive you can have implementing your vision and achieving the organization’s mission. Your organization’s performance evaluation process should be structured and delivered in the context of “how do we get better than we currently are”.
Evaluations are also about having better conversations. When your executive can depend on getting constructive feedback consistently they gain confidence that the channels to introduce enhancements and seek remedies to issues are open. Engaging the Executive in the evaluation process on how they can get better guides the conversations towards new approaches and highlights areas important to the board and the executive.
Evaluations are also about recognition. Structured well performance evaluations permit the board to fully acknowledge accomplishments and for the executive to receive confirmation that their performance is appreciated. The Executive role can be a very lonely one. Equipping them with assurance of support is a solid approach to sustaining their view as part of a larger team that is addressing the mission. Making a difference is a primary reason some professionals choose serving a mission-based organization over a profit-based entity. Regrettably, we at Nonprofit Network encounter professionals that change employment due to the absence of this assurance.
Evaluations benefit from routine. Settling on a process and a tool to conduct the evaluation eliminates some unknowns for all parties. Consistency permits improvement. Clarifying responsible parties to initiate or deliver the evaluation helps immensely. Establishing a consistent month during which the evaluation will be conducted also benefits all parties.
If you need assistance in any of these elements of performance evaluations use your membership benefits and give us a call to discuss it. Not a member? Join (it’s very reasonable) then call.
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