Is Your Board Effective? Evaluating Board Performance


When should an organisation board decide they need a board effectiveness survey

Navigating the world of corporate governance requires a deep understanding of the numerous factors that influence a company’s effectiveness. At the heart of this conversation lies a key question: Is your board effective? The success of your organisation hinges on this critical question. In the following discussion, we’ll delve into board effectiveness, evaluating it using various metrics, past data charts, and evidence-based research.


Defining Board Effectiveness

A clear definition of effectiveness is crucial to accurately gauge your board’s performance. Essentially, an effective board successfully oversees the company’s direction, provides strategic insights, fosters ethical culture, ensures risk mitigation, and ultimately increases shareholder value. According to the Harvard Business Review (2015), effective boards are those that provide both performance and conformance roles, balancing short-term operational decisions with long-term strategic planning.


The Role of Governance Structure

Directors’ Skills and Competency

The competency of directors is a key driver of board effectiveness. According to the Spencer Stuart Board Index (2019), a board comprised of diverse and experienced directors, who bring in a variety of skills and backgrounds, results in better decision-making and improved company performance. This means that an effective board requires a mix of industry veterans, experts in fields relevant to the company’s business, and individuals with a strong track record in areas like finance, risk management, and strategy.

Board Size and Composition

Board size and composition are also essential. The Journal of Financial Economics (2001) found a negative relationship between board size and firm value, concluding that smaller boards work more effectively. Similarly, the right mix of independent and non-independent directors can greatly enhance a board’s performance. Research in the American Economic Review (2007) showed that firms with a higher proportion of independent directors outperformed those with less independent boards.

Meeting Frequency and Director Attendance

Meeting frequency and director attendance at board meetings significantly contribute to board effectiveness. A study published in the Journal of Corporate Finance (2013) showed that boards that meet more frequently are associated with higher firm value. Director attendance also has a direct correlation with the company’s performance. Missing board meetings can lead to a lack of proper oversight and poor decision-making.

Performance Metrics: Evidence-Based Research

Performance metrics are an indispensable part of evaluating a board’s effectiveness. They provide quantifiable data to measure various aspects of board performance.

Financial Performance

It is important to analyse the company’s financial performance. A highly effective board should be able to drive strong financial results. In this regard, evidence from The Review of Financial Studies (2013) demonstrated that firms with effective boards showed improved financial performance, evidenced by high return on assets (ROA), return on equity (ROE), and stock performance.

ESG Performance

Additionally, a study by the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance (2020) showed that companies with effective boards are more likely to have strong Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) performance, indicating a greater commitment to ethical and sustainable practices.


Incorporating Stakeholder Feedback

Stakeholder feedback is an important tool for assessing board effectiveness. This involves gathering feedback from shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, and the wider community. Feedback can be collected through surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews, allowing for an in-depth understanding of the board’s performance from multiple perspectives.


Self-Evaluation and Continuous Improvement

Lastly, it’s crucial for the board to conduct regular self-evaluations. This includes examining the board’s structure, processes, and performance, and identifying areas for improvement. The Deloitte Board Practices Report (2019) notes that boards that regularly undertake a rigorous self-evaluation process tend to be more effective.


Board Effectiveness: Final Takeaways

Understanding board effectiveness is not a simple task; it requires an assessment of various factors from governance structure to performance metrics, stakeholder feedback, and continuous improvement. While the exact composition and practices of an effective board may vary depending on the nature and needs of the company, the discussion above provides a guide to evaluating and enhancing board effectiveness.

By prioritising effective governance, organisations can ensure that their board is well-positioned to guide the company towards achieving its objectives, improving performance, and delivering value to shareholders. Remember, an effective board is not an accident, but a result of conscious and constant efforts towards excellence.



Benchmarking Board Performance

Gain actionable insights that are benchmarked with comparable boards within your chosen industry

Want to try a Board Effectiveness Survey?

Try a free 3 minute board effectiveness sample survey and get a benchmarked performance report

Stay up to date with our Insights & Ideas

"*" indicates required fields

A female asking team if their board survey benchmarked
Try our FREE Board Effectiveness survey
and receive a
benchmarked report