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So far Sharon Constancon has created 15 blog entries.

How does one measure whether a Board Evaluation has achieved its objectives?

Clarification is Key

In order to answer this question, it is important to establish what the original objectives were. Very often, this is not clarified between the Chairman and the Board Evaluator in the beginning, resulting in a missed opportunity to define achievements gained in the process.

In addition, there are objectives defined by the company secretary and those suggested by the Board Evaluator.

Can these three sets of defined outcomes be aligned to deliver the best value to the company? Most definitely, they can!

The Chairman or the Company Secretary may have a specific need they want to address which the Board Evaluator needs to objectively assess as the program progresses. The Evaluator, through experience, will focus on key areas they are aware are often troublesome for Boards.

Not all Evaluators focus on the same areas nor have the same broad width of experience, so choosing the balance and focus ranging from governance process to people behaviour is critical.

What exactly does “Good” feel like when you reach it?

What is required to transition this Board from where it is to becoming a high performing Board?

From a Board Evaluator’s perspective, the most important outcome is that the Board has matured in their governance behaviour, has addressed their blind spots and individual perceptions, has learned to listen, to speak up and challenge effectively and has found new, productive ways of working together, so that the leadership TEAM of the organisation achieves cohesion and clearly defines the “tone from the top”.

The Chairman might have wanted to escape the evaluation with as few recommendations as possible – it takes work and effort to change. Often Chairmen feel they are already doing their best and feel that further input is not required.

In my experience Chairmen are typically wonderfully pleased with the improved workings of the Board, tangibly feeling that there are positive changes, but sometimes not quite sure they can put their finger on why.

This “new place” the Board is at is the outcome of each Director making minor changes; themselves contributing to all working better together.

The Company Secretary is pivotal.

The Company Secretary is the role that is most realistic about where the Board is at before the Evaluation process begins and they often comment on the improved interactions that emanate from the exercise, which often allow their full skills to be deployed.

After one particularly difficult evaluation, given that there were high levels of negativity to the exercise happening, a FTSE Company Secretary commented that “It has been amazing to see the transformation and to witness a Board meeting like the last which was totally transformed; I agree that most of the “work and transformation” had happened during the exercise such that immediate changes were evidenced.”

Directors, being intelligent people in the first place, invariably feel they have learned a lot about themselves, each other and have become more mindful of their impact, contribution and the value they can bring. In most cases, Directors are sensible enough to respect their own need for personal improvement, embrace it and these elements together, contribute to the Directors delivering within a highly effective Board.

Conclusion

A Board Evaluation should be enjoyed and should add value, wonderfully summarised by an initially sceptical Chairman, “I am proud of my Board, you raised some tough challenges and they have heard you and are thinking differently as we embed the recommendations raised so that we are truly “fit for the future.”

By |2019-09-11T13:17:33+01:00September 2nd, 2019|News & Events|0 Comments

Egos in the Boardroom

 

A senior Chairman recently made the comment to me, “The problem I have is that my boardroom is just not big enough for all the egos!”

 

We can sympathise with the challenge that Chairman faced; trying to corral all the egos, whilst still putting the needs of the business first. How similar, though, to where we as a nation find ourselves now, with so many egos fighting to be “Top Dog” amidst Brexit and political uncertainty.

Of course, this uncertainty has huge cost implications to the UK economy and, whichever of the “egos” wins out, getting action taken as a first step will be a good beginning.

The question then is have they taken the right decision and how will that impact their premiership and equally, the economy?

By |2019-09-11T13:17:42+01:00August 9th, 2019|News & Events|0 Comments

How Open to Constructive Criticism Are You?

 

 

The larger the company and more senior the Board Directors and Chairman, the lower the appetite to receive constructive criticism.

Although long-serving Directors will know their company inside out, they have reached a point where they are competent to challenge, but uncomfortable in receiving constructive criticism.

“New Blood”

When “new blood”, as in new Directors or those with different skills are introduced, there is a natural resistance to these disruptive forces. A Board evaluation can equally be uncomfortable where Directors are able to view themselves through the eyes of an outsider. All are perceived in some way or another as a threat.

Directors and particularly Chairmen can become entrenched in their ways; where they have been in the role for up to nine years, they have found a place of personal comfort and naturally do not want disruption during their “watch”.

We are human

These human, emotional reactions are totally counter-intuitive to what we rationally know as a way to support continuous improvement. It is always rewarding to see the healthy approach taken by some Directors when constructive comment is taken positively.

 

What’s your view on the tenure of Directors – Is nine years too long or not long enough, particularly in the case of the Chairman?

By |2019-09-11T13:17:49+01:00July 31st, 2019|News & Events, Uncategorized|0 Comments

“New blood” can lead to resistance

 

 

 

 

The larger the company and more senior the Board Directors and Chairman, the lower the appetite to receive constructive criticism.

Although long-serving Directors will know their company inside out, they have reached a point where they are competent to challenge, but uncomfortable in receiving constructive criticism.

When “new blood”, as in new Directors or those with different skills are introduced, there is a natural resistance to these disruptive forces.

A Board evaluation can equally be uncomfortable where Directors are able to view themselves through the eyes of an outsider. All are perceived in some way or another as a threat.

Directors and particularly Chairmen can become entrenched in their ways; where they have been in the role for up to nine years, they have found a place of personal comfort and naturally do not want disruption during their “watch”. These human, emotional reactions are totally counter-intuitive to what we rationally know as a way to support continuous improvement.

It is always rewarding to see the healthy approach taken by some Directors when constructive comment is taken positively.

What’s your view on the tenure of Directors – Is nine years too long or not long enough, particularly in the case of the Chairman?

By |2019-09-11T13:33:58+01:00July 31st, 2019|News & Events|0 Comments

Day two of the ICSA Annual Conference 2019.

 

 

 

Day two of the ICSA Annual Conference 2019.

Yesterday was a productive day of networking and meetings at our stand.

This afternoon Sharon Constançon will be participating in a session, “How to identify toxic behaviour in the boardroom”, exploring how antagonism, unproductivity and disengagement are some of the behaviours that can undermine even the most experienced and enthusiastic boards.

Don’t forget if you are attending, drop by our stand and say hello.

By |2019-08-01T12:31:36+01:00July 10th, 2019|News & Events|0 Comments

What is the value of questionnaires in a Board evaluation three-year cycle?

What is the value of questionnaires in a Board evaluation three-year cycle, with years two and three being light-touch, questionnaire-based reviews benchmarking progress from year one?

A questionnaire in combination with an interview approach (i.e. year one) tends to add limited additional content, but it does provide reporting and statistics in a visual red, amber, green format.

Are both a qualitative report and a quantitative report preferable in year one?
We note a lower appetite to complete a questionnaire in addition to Directors providing the time for interviews.

We suggest the two streams of assessing the information is useful if there are major issues that need highlighting graphically, or where there are more academic kind of Directors that will need to see a standardised process driving the sourcing information.

The higher value is achieved from a questionnaire designed from year one outcomes and bespoke to the recommendations raised for that board. This can then be used in years two and three to map the progress made on key recommendations and planned actions.

By |2019-09-11T13:18:09+01:00June 19th, 2019|News & Events|0 Comments

How does a chairman in conjunction with the company secretary assess who best to evaluate the Board?

How does a chairman in conjunction with the company secretary assess who best to evaluate the Board?

An option is via the procurement process rather than via the Chair or Company Secretary, usually by tender, where there is no contact and a rigid system/process which requires everyone to mould themselves into. This is usually geared towards low price being a key factor.

Another method requires a proposal to be submitted to the Company Secretary or the Chairman direct, they shortlist and hold meetings in person with about three candidates.

The third option falls in-between options one and two, where there is no face to face meeting and the decision is made from the submitted proposal, usually by a panel of people.

We question whether companies end up with the best result is they have not assessed the personality and technical match by having worked through the paper-only process?

The most beneficial option must be the second one described, where the Chairman has the opportunity to meet and ensure a match between the company and evaluator is assured. Both the Board and evaluator need to work together as a team to deliver optimal outcomes, which are then owned by the Board in order that improvements can be achieved.

By |2019-09-11T13:18:15+01:00June 12th, 2019|News & Events|0 Comments

The importance of bringing your team on your journey.

For a board to maintain effective communication with the company as a whole, it is vital not only that communication channels remain two-way, but that any communication involves and encompasses the whole team and takes them all on the journey.

Take, for example, the CEO who asks an executive to take responsibility for a new project. The executive agrees to do what is right by the business long term plan, even though this is counter to their personal long-term career plan. As in this case, where the role is not natural to that person, they will need additional support to be successful.

In this case, the CEO should hold frequent contacts, giving guidance and supporting the executive until they “own” the project, thus respectfully transitioning into and bringing them along the journey and ensuring they fully “buy-in” to it.

Such unaligned “projects” should remain manageably short, otherwise the case of “opting out” could happen.

By |2019-09-11T13:19:08+01:00June 8th, 2019|News & Events|0 Comments
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