Board Meeting Evaluations

As a board, take your own performance seriously by providing feedback at the end of each board meeting.  There are several ways to do this;

  1. Having a free form discussion amongst all the meeting participants.
  2. Asking one of the directors to act as a board evaluator (in addition to participating in the meeting).
  3. Emailing out a simple survey using Google Forms or even a mobile phone text survey.

Whatever format you use, it is useful to have a list of criteria on which to assess an effective board meeting.  Select the actions and behaviours you would like to focus on from the following list:

  • Corrections to the minutes had been sought before the meeting and any material matters arising placed on the agenda before it’s distributed (or schedule item into future meetings).
  • There was sufficient time to read the board papers (and people appeared to have read them).
  • Agenda items were supported with appropriate papers.
  • Were relevant insights included in board papers about the wider strategic context in which matters were being considered, e.g. what is happening in society, in the economy, other sectors & countries, lessons from the past, opportunities and threats in the future, etc?
  • Board papers were clear and concise.
  • Relevant criteria in the Governance Policy manual (and Constitution) had been referred to in the preparation of the board pack.
  • Were commitments due to be fulfilled by a date on or before the meeting actioned? If any commitment were not fulfilled was it clear when and by who they would be actioned?
  • The agenda was drawn from the rolling 12-month calendar of governance tasks and led by the CGO[1]/Chair.
  • The meeting started on time.
  • Meeting preliminaries were addressed: apologies, potential conflicts (based on the agenda), special circumstances relating to recording the meeting, confidentiality, if and how the meeting will be evaluated (e.g. using this form immediately after the meeting), etc.
  • Potential conflicts of interests were disclosed (formally in a register or during the meeting).
  • Board-only time was used only for matters that could not be discussed with the CEO present.
  • The duration of board-only time matched the time allocated.
  • Minutes were dealt with quickly (place minutes at the end of the Agenda if this is not the case).
  • We focused on policy level decisions rather than dealing with issues in a one-off manner.
  • Relevant criteria in the Governance Policy manual (and Constitution) were considered during board deliberations, etc.
  • In our deliberations, did we consider the perspectives of shareholders, moral owners and any other key stakeholders?
  • We mostly focused on the future and strategic matters rather than the past and administrative matters.
  • Positive body language: facial expressions, eye contact, engaged postures, no snoring, not distracted by technology (note, some directors use their mobiles for meeting purposes).
  • Positive communication skills: active listening (without redundant paraphrasing), acknowledging what others said, clear and concise, not speaking over people, staying on topic, not presenting opinions as facts, attacking the problem – not the people, etc.
  • Did directors add relevant insights to the wider strategic context?
  • Did we strike a wise balance between seeking further information and getting closure on a matter?
  • Were there gaps in our knowledge or skills?
  • Is board holism being affected by cliques or preferential treatment at a governance level?
  • Were any areas of confusion about board, officers of the board, committees or CEO authority addressed and formalised in writing?
  • Were there any instances of individual directors (including the CGO/Chair) trying to instruct or influence the CEO on matters already delegated to them?
  • Board decision making was based on a thorough understanding of the resolution/decision and voting was sufficiently formal to ensure each director’s vote was fairly and clearly captured.
  • We formally captured decisions, e.g. in written policies on what outcomes should be prioritised, or policies constraining executive operational boundaries.
  • Issues were considered at an appropriate level, e.g. before worrying about the expenditure variance on stationery, did we address our overall financial position and that financial management reflected board stated priorities?
  • Have post meeting communications been considered, key messages and any unusual sensitivities to be aware of?
  • The meeting ended on time.
  • If video or teleconferencing was used, were there any technical or set-up issues that could be improved next time?
  • Were there any unreasonable disruptions to the meeting, including use of mobiles outside of agreed norms, etc?
  • Describe the overall tone of the meeting, e.g. fast-paced, inclusive, at times positive, at times laborious, etc.


  • Feedback for the Chief Governance Office/Chair:
    • Between meetings the CGO had not exercised individual authority that had not been formally delegated to them.
    • Where necessary, the CGO ensured directors and CEO behaviour was consistent with formal governance policies.
    • Was there effective time management of the meeting?
    • Good summarising – getting deliberations to a clear next action or written policy decision point.
    • The Chair was inclusive of all directors.
    • Followed the agenda and kept deliberations on topic.
    • Did not dominate with their own views.
    • The Chair was constructively supported when maintaining board discipline and processes.


  • Feedback for the CEO
    • Prepared, articulate, responsive.
    • Equitable interactions with directors.
    • Prepared to raise with the board any behaviours that are inconsistent with the board’s own Governance Process policies (or Charter).
    • Did not deflect accountability onto their staff or contractors.


  • Feedback for anyone providing evaluation comments to the board
    • My observations referenced agreed criteria for board performance (e.g. list above).
    • Where practicable observations were not personalised.
    • Emphasis was given to focussing on the positives rather than the negatives.
    • Improvements to how evaluations could be made next time were sought.


[1] CGO – Chief Governance Officer