Still waiting for your performance review? Why not take charge?

A recently heard executive director’s  lament:

“I’ve been on the job ___  years, (fill in the blank) and have never received a formal performance review from my Board.”

Is this your situation? Unfortunately, you are not alone.

Given that any evaluation often takes the back burner at many nonprofit boards, it isn’t so surprising that executive director reviews, especially in smaller nonprofits, might also fall victim to lack of board knowledge, time or interest.

Yes, completing your performance review is your board’s responsibility.

But do you have to keep waiting forever for your reluctant board members to organize your review? If you consider this feedback an essential element of your personal leadership development, couldn’t you engineer the process yourself?

Here are two suggestions to move your review forward.

1. Write your job plan.

More than a job description and shorter than a business plan, the job plan sets the standard against which your leadership will be measured in the future. It establishes specific expectations about your short and long-term objectives, your priorities and the nature of key relationships. It includes a personal development plan. Bringing this to your board for their approval is likely to start a lively discussion about what they expect of you.  We’ve got a sample.

2. Organize your own review process.

In the spirit of partnership and recognizing that your board may not know where to start, why not draft the process and recommend tools for board member consideration. I know it’s a bummer to do yet another thing yourself, but why not consider it part of the “ managing up” you do already. Think of it as the first step in establishing a ritual that happens routinely in future years.

There are so many helpful tools from reputable sources online to build from. Your peers can also be very helpful in sharing their process and tools. Comprehensive reviews include feedback from selected staff, feedback from board members, your own self-evaluation, empirical data and hopefully feedback from individuals outside the organization with whom you have important relationships.  While hiring consul  to design and manage the process from A to Z may be too expensive for the smaller organization, consider a more limited engagement where the consultant acts as project manager, serves as a neutral party to receive information, and keeps the process on track, on time and with a spirit of respectful mutual learning.

Once your organization has caught the spirit of self-reflection, how about enticing your board to complete a self-evaluation of their own? A good swap, perhaps?

I’d love to hear from the executive directors out there who have managed their own performance reviews.  And if we can help, give us a shout.

Oh by the way. What’s the status of your staff’s reviews?


More on this topic:

Use a job plan to manage for success

Past time to evaluate your new executive director

Board self assessment- starting the journey to improved governance

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