Checklist: Performance reviews

By governance expert Mike Hudson

Mike Hudson
Mike Hudson

It is widely accepted that trustees should regularly review the performance of the board - indeed, it is part of Charity Commission advice. Performance reviews can range from a brief discussion among board members to rigorous reviews of every aspect of governance, usually carried out through a questionnaire or structured interviews by an independent person.

So where should your organisation be on this spectrum? Large and high-profile charities should generally be at the more systematic end. These boards and their stakeholders need to be confident that every aspect of the board's performance is of the highest standard.

Such reviews can be time-consuming and costly, so many medium-sized and smaller charities opt for a lighter-touch approach. This could include a shorter questionnaire, conversations between the chair and individual members or a well-prepared discussion at a board meeting.

The keys to effective reviews include agreement on the approach, strong leadership from the chair (including feedback on their performance), recognition of what works well, openness about what requires attention and a plan and timetable for improvements.

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