Difficult board assessment report?

3 tips for framing a constructive discussion for a board assessment report

Has your board recently taken a board assessment?  Reviewing a board assessment report (or team assessment) can be tricky, because there may be sensitive information or comments that may make some people uncomfortable, or data that points to negative experiences on the team.  You want to create a safe space for the discussion and normalize the conversation, to make it ok to have a difficult conversation.  You’ll probably want to hire a coach to help facilitate that conversation, so that you as leader can participate in the content.  Here are some tips for framing the conversation:

  1. The report tells us how well we as a body are fulfilling our responsibilities as a board. We’re doing this because board members collectively care about the organization and are committed to increasing our effectiveness and productivity – so let’s review the results in this spirit.
  2. This isn’t about any one person; it’s about the board collectively.  When we see critical comments about individual roles, it speaks to the fact that there’s a problem in the system (with the board and/or the staff); it may point to confusion about roles and boundaries, or lack of trust or lack of clear communication. The board has a shared responsibility to fix these pieces; so let’s focus on how the pieces are working together.
  3. You may notice a large range of responses in some questions, from positive to negative/dissatisfied. We don’t need to know who marked each item, and we don’t need to come to agreement about the ranking. The range points to the fact that we’re not having a shared/common experience.  That could be because of the committees that we sit on, because of the information that we see/read, or the way that we interpret information.  If somebody is having a negative experience on any item, that means something’s not working for them – so we need to understand how people are seeing these issues, in this review and as a regular practice.

I design and facilitate team and board conversations, and this has worked well for me.  Let me know if you find this helpful.

photo credit:  http://www.leadingwithintent.org



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