There are many ways to look at a Board of a non-profit agency to determine if the leadership is functioning and productive. A Board may look back at last year’s progress or look forward to projects, goals and objectives for the coming year. This all sounds suspiciously like Strategic planning or the dreaded annual Board retreat. But, face it – these activities are Board evaluations. Another type of evaluation is the type that asks each board member to look at his/ her performance and contribution on the Board. This type of self evaluation may also include peer input from other board members. Other board members are encouraged to add their two cents to your personal view of your own board participation. My advice, don’t bring your ego with you into this discussion.
That’s how I found myself sitting with my friends, Cash Now and Bella Pelorizado. We met at the coffee bar on Main Street of the Land of Lost Board Members. It was a semi-gray day, with the weather being neither hot nor cold, the sky neither light nor dark.
“I’ve asked you here to help me fill out my member self-evaluation for my service as a member on the Board of Drifting Do-gooders.” There was a copy of the form and my responses for each of them.
Before I could say anything more, I lost control of the session, as Bella roared, “What do you mean that you express appreciation for what others do? You’ve never mentioned my hair.” At that her uncontrollable curls stuck out on all sides of her head and scowled at me.
“Active listener?” challenged Cash. “I talk numbers and you run. But if you disagree with me, you criticize my tattoos, my hair cut, my hog office………”
“And keeping the Chairman informed?” interrupted Bella, “remember when I chaired our Annual Spring Flutter and you reorganized it behind my back?”
“But, Bella, that was the time your hair…..,” the curls went on alert, “got caught up in a fight with that wig salesman. Remember, I only had time to get the room decorated, make name tags, find you, bandage your head. There was no time to consult until you regained consciousness. See right here where it says I am willing to initiate action to further the mission of the agency?”
“That’s no excuse,” she hrumphed as her hair spelled “LOSER” at me.
Cash was not as threatening as Bella’s hair, but he did have more to say. “I wonder if you really understand your job description?” He pointed to another evaluation item. “ Get your reports out in time? I can remember a meeting where we never saw you.” He looked more closely at the evaluation form. “Wait, is there a line here for attendance?”
“I wasn’t there Cash because I was tracking down Bella when she had been kidnapped…..”
“Blaming me again!” Bella was outraged. “I do everything for you, promote your skills to my friends.” Above her head, her curls kibitzed, as they wrote “WHAT SKILLS?” She continued, “and you never invite me to your kitchen for ad hoc discussions.”
“Bella, you’re always welcome in my kitchen” I responded, as Cash’s chair scraped on the floor. “You, too Cash.”
“Maybe, you’re not as much or a slacker as I first thought,” Cash proposed. “Maybe I just don’t understand people that don’t catch on to my numbers.”
“But, Cash, that’s why Boards are teams. There should be experts in many areas. and they should respect and value the talents of all members. Good members listen, ask good questions and help the agency serve its vision and mission.” I paused and thought a moment. “When did I ever criticize your tattoos, hair cut, or office?”
“I think that was me,” confessed Bella. We looked at her for a further explanation. “Don’t you remember? I wanted to use some of my program funds to buy a new dress for our volunteer appreciation dinner and you wouldn’t let me.”
“That’s because it would have been illegal,” he barked back at her.
They were lost in a rehash of an old argument. I picked up the tab, saying “It’s on me today folks,” and left them while Cash’s curbside office hog was ringing and Bella’s hair was joining the discussion with unprintable remarks.
March 2007 Board Member Self-evaluation