New year, new board: How to evolve, evaluate and exit board members

The beginning of the year is always a popular time for business owners to evaluate their advisory boards. Once you’ve completed your strategic plans for the coming year, you may decide it is time to implement an advisory board or modify your existing board to help you achieve your goals.

When it comes to employees, businesses should always be interviewing and meeting prospects. The time to recruit and interview new staffers isn’t when the company is in a desperate state of immediate need. The scanning process should be ongoing. It works the same way with advisory board members.

Evaluating your board: The most effective way to establish evaluation criteria for board members is to create a baseline for performance matched against your specific requirements at that time. Just as a business holds its executive team accountable for specific goals, the business owner can ask the board for the same accountability. While CEOs report to boards of directors, the advisory board reports to the CEO. With a board in place, there should be a great deal of change in 12 months, so many companies evaluate their board against specific tasks or milestones annually. At the one-year anniversary, the executive team can evaluate who on the board can still add value and who has fulfilled objectives.

Evolving your board: Keeping in mind that you should always be actively looking for potential board members, it’s a great idea to plant the idea of board service in the mind of anyone who might be a fit.

Exiting existing board members: When it’s time to exit — “excuse” — current board members, it’s wise to approach the situation like you would an exit interview with an employee who is departing the company. The exit is a great opportunity for you to gain insight into the board member’s experiences. A business owner might have questions for board members on the company’s leadership or organization, the effectiveness of the board, how the CEO managed the board, and whether the board met its objectives while the member was part of it. The goal at the conclusion of the relationship is to have delivered a mutually rewarding experience for both the board member and the organization.

Conducting the exit interview: Here are some sample questions a CEO can ask departing board members:

  • How would you describe your experience as a board member?
  • What do you value about the company?
  • What did you dislike about the company?
  • What are your views about management and leadership, in general, at the company?
  • What did you like most about your role as an advisor?
  • What did you dislike about your role as an advisor?
  • Were your responsibilities communicated clearly?
  • Did you clearly understand and feel a part of the accomplishment of the company mission and goals?
  • What would you recommend to help us create a better board experience for future advisors?
  • Overall, do you think the board of advisors is an effective support organization? Explain.
  • Describe the qualities and characteristics of the person who is most likely to succeed as a board member of this company.
  • Can you offer any other comments that will enable us improve? What can we do to become a better company?

As your business grows, the advisors you need will shift. By taking an intentional and mindful approach to evaluating and evolving your advisory board, you can ensure that the right advisors are alongside you to support your personal and professional growth. Good luck!

Do you have an advisory board, or are you looking for advisory board members? If so, please email me! I am now leveraging my online column to profile successful advisory boards, and to help those that are seeking advisors.

Marissa Levin is CEO of Successful Culture, a consulting firm that helps CEOs build excellent cultures. She is the author of Built to SCALE. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @marissalevin. Contact us at [email protected]

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A 20-year entrepreneur, speaker, & globally recognized growth strategist, Marissa Levin’s lifetime legacy mission is to educate, equip, & empower 100 million entrepreneurs & leaders with the skillsets and mindsets they need to reach their greatest potential.

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© 2020 Marissa Levin | Successful Culture