Covid 19 has ushered in an unprecedented era for board governance. Boards have had to proactively review their policies and procedures to align to the changing times.
As the saying goes, “a fish rots from the head”, the strategists of an organization have been tasked with an even bigger mandate to adapt or die. This goes to the root of governance, a preserve of the Board of Directors.
Effective organizations have in place governance structures in line with the globally recognized principles. These guide the board in the execution of their duties to the company and the different stakeholders. The desire for the owners/ shareholders to hold the board accountable and effective is the driving force for board evaluation.
Board evaluation involves assessment of the board in relation to their roles and performance. The major areas that the evaluation process focuses on are; board management, board development, board goals, missions and strategies and senior staff. Evaluating boards includes an assessment of board meetings and the evaluation of how individual directors perform in the board as well as their collective performance.
Board evaluations also demonstrate where training, development and motivational programs are needed and later help to assess whether these have been effective. It should assess the composition and diversity of the board, board dynamics and processes. It also tells organizations whether their selection methods are right.
As stated in the G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance, boards should regularly carry out evaluations in order to appraise their performance and assess whether their members possess the right mix of backgrounds and competencies. They further recommend inclusion of regular board evaluations in a country’s corporate governance framework.
The new normal has called for a need for more evaluation than before. Are the directors responding to the changes? If so, how fast? Is the strategy of the organization changing in adoption to the new normal? These are some of the questions a board evaluation would target to ensure the survival and effectiveness of an organization in the current era.
Given the times, board evaluations may require adjustments especially in the conduct of the process. Organisations will have to consider virtual processes with the adoption of increased technology. The areas of focus need to be in sync with the current needs which include technological development and adoption of the organization, the environmental, social and governance matters as well as the evolving consumer trends.
Board evaluation will inform the organization on whether the directors are focusing on what matters, asking the right questions and how the strategy is driven in response to the changes. It is important more than ever to undertake this process to steer the organization in the right direction.
However, for board evaluation to achieve its purpose, the role of the directors, skills required by directors and their responsibilities in terms of good governance must be understood. It therefore needs to be a continuous and ongoing process customized to each organization’s needs. It cannot function as one size fits all solution.
We implore organizations to rethink the frequency of its board evaluations, ensure that their evaluation goes beyond the usual focus on formalistic compliance and risk compliance and redefine the standards and bench marks upon which an evaluation will be conducted.
At Leading Boards Africa, we customize solutions to the specific needs of an organization. Contact us today to help you evaluate your board’s performance to drive its effectiveness.