Listen Up! Tips to Improve Board Feedback Collection

Board FeedbackDo you struggle with board engagement? If so, you’re not alone. In the 2014 Board Engagement Report, 17% of board members indicated they are unengaged.

Low board engagement can materialize for a variety of reasons. Mission misalignment, passively managed expectations, communication silos and unplugged talent often round out the top of the list. 

However, you can re-engage your board through better feedback collection strategies, closed-loop communication practices and activation of ideas. Read on to learn how.

Tie Feedback Collection Strategies to Goals

Feedback takes many forms and serves many purposes. Board leaders must identify the information needed based on their goals. Potential areas to assess include:

  • Board meeting format.
  • Specific agenda items.
  • Management methods.
  • Task execution.
  • Roles and responsibilities.
  • Organization performance.
  • Individual member happiness.

Use the information type listed above to guide decisions on collection method. For example, if agenda insight is desired, distribute a survey after each meeting. Alternatively, if you’re looking to uncover members’ feelings on board performance, then a more in-depth approach may be necessary.

Promote Open, Closed-Loop Communication

Feedback mechanisms are only as effective as the information derived from them. Work to ensure that board members feel free to be open and honest.

Explain your feedback goals to board members. Outline:

  • Why you are seeking feedback.
  • Why honest responses are important.
  • What you will do with responses.
  • What information you are pursuing.

Practice closed-loop communication to further express your value of their opinions and thoughts. Closed-loop communication is a technique designed to eliminate misunderstandings. It is achieved by repeating a board member’s response back to them in your own words. This demonstrates that you are listening and internalizing their feedback.

Activate Ideas Derived from Feedback

It’s not enough just to listen to board members. You must transform responses into actionable items. A few ideas to get started:

  • Compile responses strategically, and have a plan in place to implement ideas. Do this from the very first feedback session—if you don’t, you may not garner the same honesty and thoughtfulness in the responses of future feedback requests.
  • Form committees. Create a committee specifically designed to gather board feedback, strategize responses and formulate plans. This committee can create sub-committees that will address key feedback responses, if necessary.
  • Ask board members to play a role in finding solutions. If board members cite disorganized agendas and meetings as sore spots, have them brainstorm suggestions to rectify this.

Unengaged boards can hinder organizational effectiveness. However, there is a clear path to get performance back on track, and it starts with understanding the thoughts, advice and concerns of existing board members.

For more insight, read our 2014 Board Engagement Report.

How do you collect feedback from your board? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Source: via Flickr