WORKSHOP: Personal Trainer

Under our human resources policy, all staff are appraised apart from the chief executive and the chair of trustees. How can I get them to take part?

Anyone in a leadership role must understand the importance of setting an example. So there must be an explanation for this. I wonder whether it is simply that the chair of trustees is not interested in and therefore not prepared to do appraisals. But the person in question is in a minority.

Our ACEVO survey shows that 70 per cent of chief executives are formally appraised by their chair in accordance with our guidelines.

If that number of people are using it, then there must presumably be some value in it.

So what are the benefits of an appraisal scheme for the chief executive and the chair? According to Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, appraising a chief executive is arguably the "single most important task that a chair of a voluntary organisation undertakes each year".

An appraisal also allows the senior management to agree core objectives and then monitor these. This helps to:

- Provide a formal framework for a chair and chief executive to review, discuss progress and monitor outcomes

- Enables the trustee board to feel confident that their objectives are being pursued

- Enables upward feedback to chairs and trustees from a chief executive.

Sometimes non-executives are wary of appraisals because they believe it is just more bureaucracy and form filing. Yet appraisal schemes do not need to be onerous or involved. It can simply consist of a chair sitting down with the chief executive and agreeing the key objectives for the year and a range of outcomes and timescales associated with those objectives.

After a year there should be a formal appraisal against those objectives and the delivery achieved.

It is also important that chairs are themselves appraised. However, this is much less common. We should do more work in the sector in establishing and promoting this. Chairs can benefit from formal appraisals by their fellow trustees and from their chief executive.

The chair plays a vital role in promoting the organisation's objectives, and the way they handle trustee meetings and the relationship with the chief executive will form the lynchpin of how effectively the organisation works.

So find a way to get the chair and the chief executive to agree to use the power that lies in formal appraisal schemes.

Stephen Bubb is chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo).

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