Tips to Ensure Real Benefits From Director Effectiveness Reviews


A board chair presenting to other board members on latest board review

A review of the effectiveness of a board’s individual directors is a crucial cog in the wheel of success. Unfortunately, however, we see many organisations that undergo this vital step, receive important data from it, and use it inappropriately, experiencing no benefit whatsoever – or worse still causing unnecessary disruption.

This is obviously not the ideal outcome of this feedback-gathering process. So how do you ensure the very best outcome for your board and for each director from your individual director effectiveness reviews? Just consider these five tips.

Tip #1: Design the process to achieve success from the start

Quality reviews of director performance and effectiveness involve a well-designed self and peer survey that can be completed and delivered digitally. Once this is done, you need to plan a good engagement process when sharing the results with each director.

Designing a good review process is pointless if it is not clearly communicated to directors and to any executives who will be involved. They should all be aware of the following:

  • Why you are doing the review: Help everyone understand that the effectiveness and performance of individual directors and their continual improvement  is vital for the successful performance and effectiveness and the continual improvement of the whole board
  • The value add: The written comments relating to each director will be of significant value to the report for each director
  • Anonymity: Survey participants will always be protected and anonymous, and their ratings and comments will be merged with the comments of other directors and executives


It is also important to communicate how each Director Effectiveness Report will be shared, and you have several options for doing this:

  • The most common option is having all reports provided to the Chair to discuss individually with each director
  • Sending the report directly to the director from a service provider like our sister company Board Benchmarking, who will arrange for one of their experts to discuss the relevant report with each director
  • Sending the report directly to the director from the service provider without any discussion or follow up


No matter which of the above options you choose, it is important to ensure the agreed communication process is honoured.

Tip #2: Ensure a well-designed and simplified survey tool

You’ll find a higher level of buy-in from directors if the survey is simple, efficient, professional, and above all, unobtrusive. If you make your survey as easy as possible for directors, you’ll gain more valuable responses.

Board Benchmarking’s online survey ticks these boxes and enables directors to rate themselves and other directors in a quick and easy one-survey page. In addition, executives can complete the same survey if requested and make informed comments in relation to each director.

Quality board benchmarking will also rate directors on key attributes in the areas of:

  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Oversight
  • Reliability
  • Ability
  • Courage to offer constructive criticism
  • Various other personal attributes


It is important not to go over the top when it comes to rating director’s attributes, but you also want a healthy amount of information to form a clear picture. We have found that rating directors on around 14 survey items is about right.

Tip #3: Deliver an insightful report

You increase the chances of someone reading and analysing a Director Effectiveness Report if it is insightfully designed. The ratings should show these two main perspectives:

  1. A comparison of self-rating versus average rating to exhibit the extent of the self-awareness of each director
  2. A comparison of the average rating for the relevant director by others compared to the average rating of all directors and the gap. This shows relative strengths and areas for improvement


The Director Effectiveness Report features written comments in relation to the director’s main board contributions, along with any suggestions others may have for them. These comments normally align with the ratings in the above two main perspectives.

Tip #4: Engage your directors

The ratings, gaps, and comments included in the Director Effectiveness Report should be given a deep dive that engages the relevant director. This can be done by the Chair asking each director to consider the findings included in their report and summarising what they think are their three main strengths or suggestions for improvement based on how others have rated them and others suggestions for them.

The Chair should perform a similar action so they can compare notes with the director and then discuss plans to leverage the director’s strengths and ways to address their areas for improvement. By running this process and ensuring each director engages with and thinks deeply about their report, you ensure that the board evaluation process is given action points that will lead to measurable and effective improvement.

Tip #5: Communicate all learnings and planned actions

The individual director review process should include discussions around what has been learned from the review. This can include feedback on strengths and suggestions, intended actions for improvement, and more. Directors should also work to align their intended actions with any recommended actions revealed from the overarching board review.

The Chair and any Managing or Executive Directors should always take the lead in this communication process by being the first to share what they have learned. This shows a real commitment to continuous personal improvement, setting the tone for continuous improvement across the whole organisation. This will also build higher levels of trust, helping the directors and the board position themselves strongly for any challenges that may arise in the future.

Speak to the Board Surveys team about an individual Director Effectiveness review today

The above process is a simple way to gain valuable insights that will improve your organisation. With many years of experience, our benchmarked board surveys can help ensure your board is always operating efficiently, with space for continuous improvement.

This is vital for the healthy growth of an organisation, so contact the Board Surveys team to take the first step today.


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