Many organisations create in-house board surveys when gathering feedback and insights from their board of directors. While this may seem like a convenient and cost-effective solution, there are several reasons why relying on an internal board survey may not be the best approach.
In this article, we’ll explore eight key reasons why using your own in-house board survey is unlikely to be the optimal way to gather the insights you need to improve your board’s performance and effectiveness. Whether you’re a seasoned executive or a new board member, understanding these factors can help you make more informed decisions about gathering feedback from your board and leveraging their expertise to drive positive change within the board and throughout your company.
Reason 1: Unlikely to get candid responses
One of the primary reasons why using an in-house board survey might not be the best option is the issue of candid responses. When directors and executives are asked to provide feedback on the performance and effectiveness of the board, the Chair and other directors are unlikely to be candid if they know other executives or the Chair will see their responses.
In an internal survey, one or more people will have access to each response, which can lead to concerns about confidentiality and possible repercussions for speaking out. In such circumstances, many directors and executives provide bland answers or avoid saying anything perceived as critical. This often results in the survey overstating the board’s effectiveness and not identifying the key areas fir improvement.
The importance of candid responses cannot be overstated when conducting a board review. The survey aims to gather honest feedback that can help identify areas for improvement and guide future decision-making. Without candid responses, the survey will not serve its purpose, and any efforts to improve the board’s and the organisation’s performance will be futile.
Anonymity is critical in the survey process. It is achieved by outsourcing the survey process to a professional survey company that can ensure the confidentiality and anonymity of the responses. This encourages respondents to be truthful and open with their feedback.
Reason 2: Limited Expertise
Another issue with in-house board surveys is the limited expertise in creating well-worded and relevant survey items and questions. In most cases, those tasked with creating the survey items will simply look on Google and cobble together questions from all over the place. Also, a survey developed with the help of Google is not likely to cover all the areas relevant to a board’s performance and effectiveness. The survey may not gather the necessary information if the internal team member designing it does not have the appropriate governance and survey and report design expertise.
To avoid this issue, it’s beneficial to use professional survey experts who have expertise in crafting effective survey questions that are relevant to the specific needs of the board and the organisation.
Reason 3: Lack of Objectivity resulting in a biased survey
Lack of objectivity can lead to a biased survey, further diminishing the value of the feedback obtained. The person responsible for creating the survey will inevitably have biases, which can result in more emphasis being placed on matters within their knowledge and expertise. As a result, essential areas may be overlooked or neglected, which can ultimately impact the effectiveness of the survey.
To ensure objectivity, it’s essential to use a good evidence-based approach in developing the survey questions. Using standardised survey methodologies to enable comparisons with other boards of similar organisations is also important, thus providing an objective benchmark to measure performance and effectiveness.
Reason 4: Poor Data Collection and Analysis
Poor data collection and analysis can lead to unreliable data and inappropriate conclusions being made. An in-house approach is highly susceptible to error, and an unidentified error can cause significant damage.
By outsourcing the process to professionals with a tried and tested benchmarked survey and reporting system ensures proper data collection and analysis methods are used that provide accurate and reliable data.
Reason 5: Insufficient Time and Resources
When conducting things in-house, the time and resources required to create a high-quality survey can be demanding. The process can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, particularly if the organisation lacks survey design and analysis expertise. Creating a survey that effectively measures board performance and provides actionable insights requires careful planning, testing, and iteration.
Fortunately, outsourcing the process to professionals can provide several benefits. Survey experts have the expertise and experience to design and administer high-quality surveys that meet the organisation’s needs. They can provide access to a tried and proven survey and benchmarked reporting system, saving time and ensuring the survey provides reliable and error-free data. Additionally, outsourcing the survey can free up valuable time and resources for the organisation to focus on other important initiatives.
Reason 6: No Ability to Compare Results
The inability to compare the results with other boards of similar organisations is a bigger issue than most people realise. Most internal survey reports are prepared on the basis that the board is great at the highest-rated survey items and not very good at the lowest-rated items. This interpretation will almost certainly be invalid because some survey items are much easier to give a high rating than others. A board may not be particularly good in an area with a high survey rating as their survey response may, for example, be in the bottom quartile of the average responses of comparable boards.
Interpreting survey results purely based on the average response rating without knowing the average responses of comparable boards will almost certainly lead to inaccurate conclusions and ill-informed decisions.
Survey experts can provide access to benchmarked data, enabling the organisation to compare its results with other boards of similar organisations. This can provide valuable insights into the board’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing it to make data-driven decisions to improve board performance and effectiveness.
Reason 7: Difficulty in Measuring Effectiveness
Measuring the effectiveness of a board is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. Poorly designed surveys cannot do this, resulting in decisions being made based on unreliable data. This can have severe consequences for the board, including missed opportunities, wasted resources, and increased risk.
Using professional survey experts to measure effectiveness can provide several benefits. Survey experts have the expertise and experience to design and administer a high-quality survey that effectively measures board performance and provides actionable insights. They can provide access to a tried and tested benchmarked survey and professional advice to ensure the board’s objectives are met.
Additionally, working with survey experts can help ensure the survey is designed to measure the right metrics, ensuring the organisation gets the insights it needs to improve board effectiveness.
Ensure an effective survey process with Board Surveys today
As you can see, relying on an internal board survey may not be the best approach. Organisations should consider using professional survey experts, like the team at Board Surveys, to ensure the survey they provide their company is well-designed, relevant, and reliable.
We can help you gather the insights to improve your performance and effectiveness while minimising the risk of legal liability. Chat with our survey experts today!