The Updated Approach to In-House Board Reviews


While many organisations have been relying solely on internal evaluations, it’s time to shake things up and embrace the benefits of externally facilitated assessments. This is actually crucial, even for smaller outfits. Everyone should be looking to step up their reviews and ensure their boards are firing on all cylinders. We have some helpful tips and information to ensure you do exactly that, so read on!

Conducting board reviews with the trusty board survey

A board survey, typically administered internally, is a key tool for assessing the board’s and its members’ performance and effectiveness. It’s not uncommon for organisations to broaden the scope of this assessment by seeking input from executives actively engaged in board meetings—a practice highly recommended for gaining a comprehensive understanding of board dynamics.

The focal point of these surveys is typically the board’s overall effectiveness as a collective entity. However, some boards take it a step further by incorporating self-assessment and peer-review components to evaluate directors’ individual contributions. Additionally, a few progressive boards even extend their assessments to include the effectiveness of various board committees, adding another layer of insight into governance structures.

Crafting the survey statements is no small task, often falling into the hands of the Company Secretary. They’re tasked with piecing together these statements from various sources, whether it’s existing templates, online surveys, or their creative input. It’s a process that requires finesse and attention to detail to ensure that the survey effectively captures the nuances of board performance.

Company Secretaries grappling with ineffective tools

Tasked with compiling board review reports, most company secretaries resort to platforms like Survey Monkey or other rudimentary data collection tools to gather responses from directors and executives.

The real challenge begins once the data collection phase is complete: compiling a comprehensive report for the Chair and the board. This task often involves manual data transfer and manipulation, as well as the incorporation of charts and graphs—a process that’s laborious and prone to errors.

Company Secretaries meticulously outline the responses received for each survey statement within these reports, often calculating average scores to provide a concise overview. Additionally, steps are taken to safeguard the anonymity of individual directors, ensuring confidentiality throughout the process.

To add to the complexity, if the same survey has been used in previous assessments, Company Secretaries may include comparative figures in the report. However, this introduces further risks of transcription errors and inaccuracies, compounding the challenges faced during the compilation process.

Despite its crucial importance, compiling these reports remains a time-consuming and low-value administrative function, typically under the purview of the Company Secretarial team. This process highlights the pressing need for more efficient and streamlined tools to support the critical task of board review reporting.

The challenge of misinterpretation

It’s not uncommon for board members to draw conclusions about their effectiveness based solely on the average response ratings of survey items. This approach assumes that areas with high ratings reflect superior performance, while those with low ratings indicate areas needing improvement. The Company Secretary, the Chair, or other board members may even explicitly state this assumption.

However, this simplistic interpretation can lead to misunderstanding. The crux of the issue lies in survey statements—some are inherently easier to agree with than others. A high average response to universally agreeable statements doesn’t necessarily signify the board’s competence in that particular area. Similarly, lower average responses don’t automatically indicate incompetence. It’s essential to recognise that a mere numerical average cannot fully capture the complexity of board dynamics.

The inclusion of written comments regarding strengths and suggestions for improvement, often added verbatim to the report, adds another layer of complexity. These comments offer valuable qualitative insights that may not always align with the numerical ratings, further emphasising the need for a nuanced understanding of the survey findings.

In essence, while the numerical averages provide a snapshot of board sentiment, they must be interpreted with caution and complemented by a thorough analysis of qualitative feedback to truly gauge the board’s performance and identify areas for growth.

What is the modern alternative that solves these issues?

Board Surveys‘ innovative platform has revolutionised the board review landscape by offering four meticulously crafted, fit-for-purpose board surveys at affordable prices. Regardless of your board’s sector, industry, or size, there’s a survey tailored just for you.

What sets Board Surveys apart is its unique proposition of benchmarking against a diverse pool of 500 boards spanning various sectors, industries, and sizes. This benchmarking feature provides invaluable insights, allowing boards to compare their performance against peers and effectively identify areas for improvement.

The pricing structure is refreshingly transparent. It starts at $1,425 for the shortest fit-for-purpose survey, ideal for smaller organisations and not-for-profits. Even for larger enterprises, the cost remains competitive, maxing out at only $6,750. This inclusive pricing covers everything, from survey administration to providing a benchmarked report directly to the Chair or another nominated party.

Choosing the right survey for your board is a breeze with Board Benchmarking’s user-friendly interface. Simply click to explore the number of survey factors and statements included in each option, ensuring you select the most suitable survey for your board’s needs.

Gone are the days of Company Secretaries labouring over in-house board surveys and compiling non-benchmarked reports.

The future of board reviews is here

If you’re not quite convinced yet, we offer a shortened FREE Trial version of our surveys, allowing individuals to experience the benefits firsthand. Upon completion, you’ll receive a free benchmarked report immediately—talk about a win-win situation!


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