October 23, 2018


Andrew Bergen

So Many Leaves! A Better Way to Evaluate the CEO.

I typically have loved the Fall season. The colors of the leaves, the cool air at night – I just like changes in seasons (generally). However, there are two parts of Fall that I don’t like. First, it signals Winter is coming. This year, Fall has arrived quite abruptly and very early. That doesn’t bode well for what our experience is likely to be in Winter. Second, we live in a neighborhood that is very mature. There are lots of old, very large trees filled with leaves every year. I love those trees in the Spring and Summer. They provide such nice shade, many species of birds find their homes near us in the summer, and they are a nice wind block providing a calm backyard to sit.

The worst part comes in Fall. All those leaves to rake. And, the trees around here typically drop all their leaves at once. That usually means the better part of a half-day of gathering, bagging and disposing of leaves. This year, I counted 18 extra-large bags of leaves. I dislike that job. I wish there was some way of only having to collect one bag of leaves every weekend and spread that job out a little.

I’ve seen boards approach the annual CEO Performance Review in a similar way. Year-end rolls around and now the board scrambles to gather all the information it thinks it needs to make that assessment. What should be included? Do we need to do a 360? Perhaps each board member should write his or her opinion of where the CEO did well and some opportunities for improvement. Then the CEO will be left holding a whole bunch of bags of assessment that don’t necessarily have a cohesive meaning.

  1. However, there is a better way of assessing the CEO’s performance – one that does allow the board to collect one bag of leaves at a time. In every meeting where the board receives a monitoring report from the CEO, simply record, on a one page form (or shorter), these notes: Were the CEO’s interpretations in this report assessed by the board as reasonable? (Yes or No)
  2. Did the board determine the evidence provided by the CEO demonstrated compliance with those reasonable interpretations? (Yes or No)
  3. If “No” to either of the previous two, a date by when the board can expect a resubmission of the monitoring report.
  4. Was compliance accomplished by the date recorded in #3? (Yes or No). When the board receives the next monitoring report(s) at another meeting, simply add the answers to those questions above on the same form.

When year-end arrives, it is a fairly simple job to look back through that form and note any trends of compliance or non-compliance. The board can then quickly – and effectively – determine the CEO’s job performance for the whole year without having to scramble to find the data it believes it needs. All the leaves have already been gathered.



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