The board is a team and all boards can enhance their performance. By using an external evaluator you can derive a completely objective assessment of your board – its structure, governance and effectiveness.
My aim is to give you a practical checklist: not a box-ticking exercise but clear actions for the directors which will enable your board to enhance its performance and improve the way it operates.
While I use the various governance codes and guidance as a framework, my focus is on board dynamics – which is what an effective board should all be about. The process looks something like this:
- Questionnaire: I draft an online questionnaire and share this with directors before holding interviews, to stimulate conversation.
- Observation: I observe your board and committee meetings to assess dynamics.
- Interviews: I hold interviews with board members, attendees and the company secretary picking up on the online questionnaires – and looking at other matters such as board culture, dynamics, diversity and succession planning.
- Review of papers: I undertake a practical review of your board and committee papers.
- Peer review: I assess your board against a defined peer group.
- Report: I provide you with a report on the effectiveness of the board and committees with a checklist of suggested areas for enhancement.
- Presentation and discussion: I present the report’s findings to the board in a facilitated discussion.
I currently spend about 60 per cent of my time reviewing and advising boards on their effectiveness and provide recommendations on how they can enhance their performance. Recent companies where I have undertaken board evaluations include Admiral Group plc, Welsh Water, Harworth Group plc, Nottingham Building Society, and Wesleyan Assurance Society. I am currently undertaking reviews for a FTSE 100 financial services group and a major insurance company.
As well as undertaking a number of board reviews, I have worked as an interim governance consultant for a FTSE 100 international bank, working on board effectiveness and governance matters generally for the holdings board, and for a quasi-public sector body transferring to be a royal charter body – in particular what they will need to have an effective board and governance system in place.
I have also served as an non-executive director so I have experience of being evaluated.
I also work with boards and executive teams to review their structure and leadership dynamics, looking for ways in which these can be improved.