21 Jul

A Too Often Forgotten Question for Your CEO’s Annual Review Conversation

One of the core responsibilities of a board of directors is to evaluate the executive of the organization. This is actually part of the broader board role of hiring, evaluating, supporting and if need be, firing and replacing, the executive.

Evaluation and review is sometimes done by the executive committee, a personnel committee or a compensation committee, or in the case of a learning institute, a head support and evaluation committee. The evaluation usually consists of a self-evaluation, input from a sample of those who report to the executive, board members, donors and other stakeholders, and an assessment of progress made against the executive’s previously established goals. Sometimes an outside consultant will be hired to perform a 360-review. In best practice, a written report is prepared.

In most cases, the chair of the board has a meeting, or a series of meetings, with executive to discuss the review and next year’s compensation and to outline new goals for the coming year.

There is one question that is notably too often missing from this review conversation. Ready, here it is: How can the board better support you? And if the chair is self-reflective, how can I, the chair, be a better partner to you, the executive?

The best boards do board assessment and self-evaluation, but it is often not connected in time or thought to the executive’s review process. It should be. The board can be reviewed. Executives can be reviewed. But the relationship must also be examined and discussed. Please don’t forget to ask this important question. Successful non-profits depend on dynamic, honest and supportive partnerships between the executive and the board.

Nanette Fridman, MPP, JD, is a strategist and coach for values-driven organizations and leaders. She is the President of Fridman Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in governance, fundraising, strategic planning, and leadership and team development. Nanette is the author of On Board: What Current and Aspiring Board Members Must Know About Nonprofits & Board Service and Holding the Gavel: What Nonprofit Board Chairs Need to Know. She can be reached at


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