Board Self-Assessment: 5 Steps to Evaluate Your Performance

Effective boards set goals and work to achieve them.  The best, top-performing boards execute an annual self-assessment of their performance.  This is the time of year to evaluate how your board performed in 2018.  To conduct a proper self-assessment each board should take the following five steps.

The self-assessment is a simple performance evaluation survey which requests answers ranging from “strongly disagree “to “strongly agree” with three levels of moderation in between (“disagree, neutral, and agree”).  This evaluation will yield the performance evaluation as a measure of results from one to five.

More detailed guidance for board self-assessment can be found in the NCA’s Board Toolkit (available to all members as a benefit of membership).

Step One – Evaluate Board Structure

This section of the assessment explores how well the board does its business.  Questions address issues of board organization, committee engagement and performance, and resources such as time allocation and staff support.

Questions in this step include the following:

  • The board has the right number of members.
  • The board has the right number of meetings.
  • There is adequate time in board meetings to address matters of importance.
  • Board meetings efficiently use time and human resources.
  • The board has adequate indemnification and D&O insurance coverage.
  • Board committees are constructive to effective club governance.
  • Committees have the right number of members.
  • Committee reports are timely submitted and require the proper amount of board review.
  • Committee assignments and charters reflect the best advice of the board.
  • Committee performance is right for the club’s current needs.

Step Two – Evaluate Board Information

The following types of questions validate the quality and use of information going to the board:

  • The club’s Board Policy Manual adequately communicates the duties and expectations of individual board members.
  • The board benefits from adequate pre-read time, information and materials to enable it to be effective.
  • Information provided the board is fully vetted and applicable to current and emerging conditions at the club.
  • Presentations by officers and staff are accurate and unbiased.
  • The board has adequate access to internal and external advisors (e.g., auditor, legal and risk management) to make informed decisions.

Step Three – Evaluate Board Dynamics

The following questions assess the dynamics or growth and changes exhibited by the board:

  1. The board addresses the right issues for the club.
  2. The board does what is right.
  3. The board clearly and timely communicates goals, objectives and results tithe members.
  4. The board properly balances its guidance and supervision of the general manager.
  5. The board promotes a culture of accountability at all levels of club governance.

Step Four – Individual Self-Assessment

Every board member must be accountable for his or her own work as a servant leader.  Questions that help to evaluate individual board member performance include:

  1. Engages in the board’s work.
  2. Understands the club’s strategy and strategic issues.
  3. Evaluates and fully understands club budgets.
  4. Understands and closely monitors the club’s financial performance.
  5. Respects the confidentiality of the board room in all matters.

Step Five – Board Communications

Members expect to know what the board is doing and what matters are being addressed.  Poor communication is one of the most frequently stated points of member dissatisfaction with club boards.

Communicate the board’s self-assessment and a composite assessment to the entire club membership.  Show the questions that were asked and the performance ratings that the board assigned to its own performance (not the individual scores).  Candid and genuine self-assessment of the board’s performance will build trust at the club.

Self-assessment is a form of the personal accountability that members expect of their leaders.  Communicating the results openly and honestly will make the club stronger and more capable of meeting the next generation of challenges.

This piece was authored by GGA Partner Henry DeLozier for the National Club Association’s Club Director quarterly magazine.  

Board Self-Assessment

Following board room performance standards now in use at most corporations, enables private club boards to improve their performance and the job satisfaction from their board service.  One business-like staple from the big companies is a board self-assessment.

Usually a board self-assessment is divided into four segments: structure, information, dynamics and individual board member self-evaluation.  Following are some examples of such a board assessment tool, which quantifies the qualitative elements into five parts ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” (with disagree, neutral and agree in the mid-range).  Questions about the board structure include:


  1. The board members have the appropriate talent, experience, diversity, independence, character and judgment.
  2. Board meetings are well organized and planned to ensure an effective use of time.
  3. The annual board retreat is effective in focusing the board on key strategic issues.
  4. The board has the right number of committees, and
  5. Committee meetings are timely, when-needed and purposeful.


  1. The responsibilities and expectations of board members are clearly communicated and understood.
  2. The board receives adequate pre-reading materials – including budget, financial and committee reports – in advance of meetings.
  3. Board minutes are appropriate for the club, accurate, and timely available for member review.
  4. The board has adequate access to internal and external advisors, such as independent auditor and legal counsel, and
  5. Presentations by officers and staff at board meetings are accurate and unbiased.


  1. Board devotes sufficient time to understand and appropriately influence the club’s mission and strategic direction.
  2. Board clearly communicates goals, expectations, and concerns about tactical solutions the club’s strategic plan.
  3. Board maintains current, accurate and complete understanding of the club’s financial performance and capabilities.
  4. Board monitors legal and ethical compliance consistently, and
  5. Board balances the assignment of authority with accountability for results.

Board Member Self-Assessment (rate your own performance)

  1. Full understanding of the club’s strategic plan.
  2. Able to make critical and informed decisions in a constructive manner.
  3. Focus on key strategic, financial and governance matters.
  4. Actively engaged in the work of the board, and
  5. Advocates in support of the club.

The consolidated – not individual – results of the board self-assessment should be published for member review with an invitation for comment and feedback.  This step engages members and enables individual board members to separate random member comments from quantified data.  Members favor the notion that the board is holding itself accountable to the club’s members and openly sharing the results with fellow members.  Although your club may not be a Fortune 500 company, it can certainly adopt useful standards of board accountability.

GGA’s Henry DeLozier penned this article for BoardRoom Magazine’s BoardRoom Briefs.