The demanding work of Boards...
Councils and Boards / Management Committees do vital work for the organisations they serve and lead, particularly in the realms of governance, strategy, and working with the CEO.
In our work with Boards and Councils, they typically call in specialist expertise for purposes such as assisting with a particular Board function (such as strategy or board evaluation), and adding a layer of objectivity or separation in some board processes (eg., CEO performance assessment).
Directors are keenly aware that their environment is increasingly complex – both legally and in regard to the business environment. This environment includes the corporate governance environment, as well as the specific operating environment for the business or organisation that the Directors represent.
Directors must ensure that the organisation succeeds in this business environment; setting strategy, monitoring implementation, and ensuring that performance is measured and reported accurately and honestly.
Directors also set the tone at the top of the organisation regarding culture. They signal to management on what is acceptable and what isn’t in organisational practice.
The responsibilities of Directors include being responsible to common and statute law, to Regulatory bodies, to stakeholders and shareholders, to self-regulatory codes of various types, and to the broader expectations of their community and society.
Adding to the complexity...
- Ideally this all happens within a productive working partnership with their CEO and senior team.
- At the same time, the Board is accountable for the performance of the CEO.
- And while Board members must bring their own independent judgement to the table, the Board can only act as a group.
All of this often requires real skill of board members and particularly the Chair (Mayor in the case of Councils).
Strategy and planning programs
Strategy has for some time been a major area of our facilitation work, and remains so as we all work through the incredible challenges of 2021.
Speaking of which, the time is nigh to get strategic about 2022/3 and beyond if you haven't yet. We invite you to get in touch if you're seeking expert support.
Strategy programs for Council/Board and executive teams represent a key moment in their year, a key stage in the ongoing strategy process - and a key to setting up for success in the future. The moment itself could be the annual retreat, or a review/refresh between annual events.
When you need someone to help set the scene, keep things flowing and get you to the outcomes you need, we have experience over many years providing support at this level, and will help you tap into your best innovative thinking so you reach the best considered positions possible.
We believe that engaging external stakeholders in strategy is more important now than ever. We've developed a fabulous survey tool that will provide valuable perspective on how your team is performing currently across a range of strategy factors, including how effectively your strategy process engages internal and external stakeholders. The insights gained here can be incredibly helpful in ensuring that your strategy has buy-in, not because it's well "sold", but because it's well-informed, and includes vital input from your community.
Our aim is to help you develop strategy and plans that are challenging yet not impossible, based around an inspiring vision of your future, while being flexible enough to respond to changes in the environment.
We can work with you onsite, offsite or virtually, with resources including guest speakers / additional facilitators where that will enhance your team's experience or outcomes.
CEO performance review support
Performance evaluation is tricky enough at any level, but how to assess the performance of top leaders? And of course, performance assessment at this level (any level!) should be a lot more nuanced than just 'a score'.
Governing bodies such as Boards and Councils can find it difficult to objectively and comprehensively assess the performance of a CEO. But it remains a key part of their role. Expert support can help.
One challenge is ensuring that the assessment is objective. Clear key performance indicators (KPIs) are important in this regard. If the KPIs aren't clear, we recommend getting them right first.
And while clarity is necessary, it isn't sufficient; measuring what's really important in the role is also significant. We’ve supported Boards/Councils where the ‘big’ (financial) KPIs were being hit, but there were lingering concerns about the overall impact of the way the work was being delivered - perhaps some of the ‘softer’ (people-related) areas hadn't been identified for inclusion in the assessment. Or maybe the quality of work in stakeholder relationships hadn't been factored in.
Even with the right KPIs, measuring performance against KPIs isn't simple. A board is often not directly in touch with daily operations, and is at arm’s length from the people the CEO interacts with in their daily work, so it's hard to put a full picture of leadership performance together.
To gain a broad and accurate view a CEO or GM, we can help you compile a full view of that leader’s performance as seen by board members, direct reports, and even external peers or stakeholders.
To enable this, we typically build an online performance assessment tool, including KPIs and other measures, sometimes supported by personal or group interviews.
As well as assessing against KPIs, part of a solution can be to supplement this with a leadership-based 360-degree tool. A 360° process can bring a level of objectivity that's often otherwise hard to guarantee (outside measuring quantitative measures such as financial performance measures). We bring a range of tools and options to this process, including:
- The world-class Leadership Circle suite (with individual and team 360 profiles both possible). The LC model matches the unrelenting needs of today's business environment with a comprehensive framework of leadership capabilities, and a system that fairly and accurately measures performance against these.
- Other models that we can discuss with you to ensure we have the best fit for your organisation.
(We’d recommend a leadership 360, if used, be included only as a support to KPI-based measures and for developmental purposes).
Our experience in designing and implementing fully customised reviews, based on measures such as KPIs, organisational performance measures, and other agreed objectives, will satisfy all involved that the process enabled a real voice for all the input parties that should have a say.
You'll receive a comprehensive and accurate picture of performance, that can be benchmarked and re-tested over time. As well as assessing current performance, this will generate insights to enable board/council members and the CEO to work together to develop accurate development and performance objectives for the next phase.
We will ensure that your CEO review process is timely, and that it gives appropriate support, care and involvement to all parties along the way. This matters, because it’s all about your Board or Council, and the work of and relationship with the person leading your organisation to succeed in its charter.
Boards, Councils and Committees of Management have substantial responsibilities in running the organisation, both collectively and individually, and with that responsibility goes the need to manage its governance work to impeccable standards. The Boards' governance responsibilities include reference to standards in relation to matters such as accountability, compliance, behaviours and trust across the following levels:
- Individual – personal responsibility and practice.
- Board - group and member commitment to board function and shared responsibilities.
- Organisational - performance of the whole business in terms of appropriate practice.
- Stakeholder – maintaing standards re the outward focus on the community, individuals and groups with a deep interest in the organisation (whether financial or otherwise).
Governance can include ensuring good practice in relation to board membership and renewal, as well as evaluation. Sometimes, boards may not realise that they have under-developed or unclear systems in areas such as authority, decision-making and compliance. An audit process can clarify if and where there are significant gaps.
Governance performance should now be benchmarked against the current standards and expectations that our boards are operating under today. Tapping into external support on matters such as governance, including arrangements for working effectively with the management team, can be an essential step in putting things right.
Board Evaluation and profiling
A key success factor for boards is evaluation at the Board and individual Director levels. Boards that have regular, external evaluations demonstrate consistent improvement in Board effectiveness. With evaluation, boards can improve decision-making, strategic alignment and focus, confidence by shareholders / members and markets or communities. Other improvements can be identified and implemented in areas such as board cohesiveness and confidence between Board and management. A powerful board assessment will include areas such as reviewing or identifying board performance metrics, analysing the board’s contribution to corporate strategy, and evaluating board dynamics. Through profiling, we can help define the ideal board structure and composition, identify future needs and clarify board, committee and director roles.
Does your Board need new members? We'll work with you to profile, attract and recruit the right people. A skills audit could be a starting point if you don't already have a recent one, but more importantly, what's the difference that will make the difference for your Board going forward? Let's work on that together. Let's optimise your Board membership - as well as its frameworks and processes. If there are currently key missing elements, it will be impacting on board performance. Whatever these may be, we suggest you don't let them continue to stand between your Board as it is, and as it really should be.
We have extensive experience in supporting boards and senior leaders in identifying impactful improvements to organisational structures, workforce, and performance systems. This work can sometimes include assessing organisational climate or culture. The outcomes can include implementable recommendations around key roles and functions, stakeholder relationships, or revisions to internal or external strategy.
Change is everywhere, and back in 2020 (seems such a long time ago now!) the pace of change increased incredibly with the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on business and workplaces. Even without such an incredible external force driving change, factors such as mergers, new services, new products, new consumer interests, or new competitors – any of these forces will bring change. Change management is the art of accounting for the human element in any change program. It’s not just a matter of ‘bringing people along’ or ‘selling them’; successful change programs include an extensive engagement strategy and participation in the process. Our programs are designed at several levels. We work strategically with the executive team to plan an effective and workable change program. We help leaders enhance their leadership and communication skills and approaches in times of change. We provide group and one-to-one sessions for teams going through change. Our extensive experience in this area will make a huge difference to how successfully your business and your people navigate that big change ahead.
Looking for other help with Board or Council support? We'll partner with you to scope, design and deliver specific programs based on your needs. We'll set outcomes with you, and ensure that we do everything humanly possible to help you reach them. Check in for a confidential discussion on how we can help facilitate your success.
What our clients say...
When we sought external support for our CEO performance review this year, Paul Murphy was a clear choice; we were aware of his high quality work from a previous project. Paul delivered an excellent review process and a comprehensive report that positioned us for highly productive dialogue within our team and with our CEO. This work is vital for a Council in ensuring we meet our strategic objectives and the expectations of our community. Cr Christine Henderson, Mount Alexander Shire Council
I wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ for the work you diligently undertook with YPRL and especially the sub-committee tasked with the CEO appraisal. I sincerely thank you for your professionalism and balanced views, together with a calm perspective. Your knowledge and insights in assisting the sub-committee with the appraisal and KPI process, were invaluable. I wish you all the best with your consultancy. Cr Mary Lalios Councillor, City of Whittlesea, past Chair, Yarra Plenty Regional Library Board