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Step 7 – Review the board’s performance

Nine Steps to Effective Governance

Step 7 – Review the board’s performance

Nine Steps to Effective Governance

The board should set standards for its own performance

Every board needs to conduct regular assessment against performance standards.


  • Identifies board-wide performance improvements 
  • Aids succession planning 
  • Identifies areas where directors’ personal contribution could be enhanced. 

Typical reasons for resistance to board evaluation

The concept of governance assessment is now more common across all sectors. But the idea that boards and individual directors should be held accountable for the effectiveness of their contribution still meets with some pushback and elicits responses like: 

  • we are subject to re-election 
  • we have our hands full just surviving 
  • it will undermine teamwork 
  • an evaluation process is not appropriate for volunteers 
  • performance evaluation is not appropriate for ‘eminent’ directors. 

Eminence in other fields is no guarantee of governance effectiveness.

Not only should the board add value to the organisation but individual directors should ‘pull their weight’ and be valued members of the board. 

No one volunteers for a board to deliver mediocre service.

Sport New Zealand online governance evaluation system

The Sport New Zealand governance assessment system continues to be refined and updated. It is available at in these modules: whole-of-board, individual director, and chair. The system also has short form and customisation functions for follow-up surveys or feedback from targeted groups.

Governance Mark assessment

The whole-of-board assessment module in the online system is now aligned with the Governance Framework for Play, Active Recreation and Sport in New Zealand. Using a Sport NZ-accredited assessor, it is possible to go through a governance assessment and development process that results in the award of the Governance Mark.

Evaluation of the board is based on its own policies

Whatever tools and techniques are used for governance evaluation, the board should have its own prior agreements about operating practices and values (Step 1). This is the same principle the board applies to evaluating its chief executive.

A governing style policy within the board charter can be useful when compiling appropriate performance expectations. 

Every board should have a clear job description and agreement on performance standards. 

External accountability

The board is a subset of the organisation’s owners/members and as such should provide a level of accountability back to that and other important stakeholder groups. This is different and separate from organisational performance. It assumes that the board has defined its own work and is able to report externally on how it has performed during the year. It is increasingly common to see a governance section in an annual report.

Supporting material

A Field Guide to Bad Directors

Board charter (PDF 74 KB)

Do You and Your Fellow Board Members Hold Yourselves Accountable or Are You ‘Just Volunteers’?

Governance in the annual report (PDF 197 KB)

SNZ - Governance Evaluation System (

Ten minute board review (from Good Governance) (PDF 87.8 KB)

Download complete document

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