The Strauss Blog

Just Do It: Evaluating Your Chief Executive Officer or Executive Director

Evaluation of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Executive Director (ED) is as important as evaluating your own board members and their performance as directors. The CEO/ED performance is key to achieving the goals of your association.

As a board it is important to regularly evaluate your CEO/ED in a constructive way. Including the CEO/ED in all aspects of the process is really important in measuring their performance.

I did some research on tools that are available to evaluate performance andone of the sources I looked at was from a BoardSource training seminar I attended years ago. In the session there were several key questions to focus on when assessing your CEO/ED performance – a few of the most important are below.

  • What are the objectives of the association in the short term and long term?
  • Are the objectives being realized?
  • Does the CEO/ED have the skill set to run your association?
  • Do they have the right personality characteristics?
  • Do they work well with staff?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • Are there external forces that are preventing them from reaching the association objectives?
  • What needs to be done to strengthen the CEO/ED performance, clarify roles of the CEO/ED and the board and enhance the effectiveness of the association?

These are all good questions to ask but like any evaluation process you need to start with the key objectives of the performance evaluation and identify the performance indicators. It should be very clear to the board and to the CEO/ED what the objectives are and that there be agreement.

Looking at the goals of the organization and how their performance supports those goals is crucial to the evaluation. Some of the areas that can be measured are as follows:

  • Leadership – Do they have the leadership skills to implement the mission & vision of the association? Do they create a working environment that attracts and retains good staff?
  • Strategic Thinking and Planning – Do they think strategically with the future in mind? Do they understand all the stakeholders needs and weigh those with the needs of the association? Are they able to implement the strategy of the association into a doable plan?
  • Management of People – How well do they work with committees and volunteers? Are they able to put the right people in the right positions to be the most effective for the association?
  • Communication – How are they at communication with staff, board members and the membership base? How well do they deal with media? How do they deal with difficult situations?
  • Management of Resources – How well do they manage the financial resources of the association? How well do they manage contracts?
  • Personal Effectiveness – Are they self aware and use their strengths and weaknesses effectively when dealing with situations?
  • Expertise – Do they have the necessary knowledge and experience to lead the association? Do they understand the external environment and apply their experience where needed?

The above is sourced from http://figo-toolkit.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/3.15_Toolkit_PerformanceEvaluation_ED1.pdf

Once you have evaluated the performance you then work through areas that need improvement, and possible training to strengthen their performance. All this is to better equip the association to be more effective in reaching its goals and objectives.

Who performs the Chief Executive Officer or/ Executive Director evaluation?

Depending on your association’s structure the evaluation can be done by the chair, board executive committee, governance committee or the full board. A determination needs to be made on the most effective and fair way to conduct this.

There are other things to consider when developing this process. Will staff be included in the evaluation, will the CEO ED be given time to respond to the performance evaluation and what is the time frame in which the evaluation takes place?

I have written a few blogs about evaluating your board members through peer-to-peer evaluation and board self-evaluation. The CEO/ED is no different.

If you aren’t evaluating performance of your CEO/ED on a regular basis, you’re likely missing opportunities to optimize the performance of your association.