By Whitney Bertram, operations manager
These ideas are inspired by the session “How to Manage Your CEO Performance Evaluation for Best Results” at the ASAE Annual Meeting on August 10, 2014, presented by Joel Albizo, FASAE, CAE; Wes Ehrecke, FASAE, CAE; and Nancy Green FASAE, CAE.
As an association management company, IMI Association Executives sends evaluations to our partners’ boards so they can provide feedback on our services. Employee evaluations are performed by the company instead of by the individual boards.
Many associations have CEOs who are hired directly by the association. It is important for all CEOs to have performance reviews. The CEO’s performance is usually evaluated by the board, executive committee or a special task force.
Categories for CEO evaluation can include:
- financial management
- executive qualities
- volunteer relations
- management and administrative
- organization and planning
It is important to note that there is a difference between leadership and management. Leadership involves influence and inspiration. Management consists of controlling a group to accomplish a goal.
There are many challenges when it comes to evaluating the CEO’s performance:
- Board turnover leads to inconsistency from year to year
- Board has limited interaction with CEO
- Board doesn’t provide useful feedback
- Board wants to avoid criticizing
- Board provides input on details, not bigger picture such as strategic progress
The CEO and the board must make sure they are in agreement on what is important. The CEO and the board chair/president need to have a discussion about expectations and the assignment of responsibilities.
One way to facilitate the CEO evaluation is to include the evaluation form and/or criteria in the CEO employment agreement. This establishes expectations from the start.
It helps to narrow down the evaluating group to just the executive committee because they are most involved with the day-to-day work of the CEO. The evaluating group needs to know there is value in the evaluation and that they should take the work to complete it. Remind them to keep track of association activities so they are equipped to evaluate. Make sure the process is as easy as possible since the board is made up of volunteers. Use an outside firm if necessary.
When possible, perform the evaluation in person so that there is a captive audience. Often, emailed forms get overlooked. This also allows for more dialogue. Don’t let the form hinder additional discussion. Also, consider allowing the CEO to complete a self-evaluation and include it in the formal evaluation process.
Consider measuring outcomes instead of activities. Evaluate progress of the association against the strategic goals. If using 360° format (where peers or subordinates provide feedback), use them only as a development tool instead of in formal evaluation.
Conducting CEO evaluations with honest conversation and feedback allows for association growth.