What questions should the board use to evaluate the school's leadership in 2020, especially in light of the current societal and economic disruptions caused by the pandemic? That's an inquiry we received last week that is important for all schools to consider.
How the board provides feedback and cultivates the relationship with the chief administrator is critical to the growth and future of the school. Clarity regarding expectations and consistent feedback contributes to your commitment to grow as a healthy learning organization.
Schools are facing great uncertainty this spring and summer, putting even more stress on the leadership and culture. Those with a discipline team and culture will figure out how to achieve their mission even in the midst of such challenging times.
Asking the right questions for an evaluation is where you start, especially when assessing the chief administrator's performance. To foster a productive dialogue, the board will first want to ensure that it can provide definitive responses to these questions regarding effective governance:
- Have you established key performance indicators in advance to which the board and chief administrator have agreed?
- Do you have a Performance Rubric that defines behavioral core values and expectations for everyone associated with the organization?
- Is your Strategic Context (mission, core vales, target market, value proposition, brand promise, history, story, etc.) clearly documented?
- Do you have a Strategic Growth Plan that defines the top three strategic objectives and supporting tactical initiatives?
Without the clarity afforded through these strategic elements, assessing performance becomes dangerously vague and subjective. That's especially demotivating in this current environment.
Assuming the board has established appropriate levels of direction and guidance, evaluation questions can then be connected to these documents and agreements. Questions to consider include:
- What is the current Talent Quotient and how has this KPI changed over the last year? What is being done to reinforce and celebrate those employees who contribute at the highest level to the mission, culture and goals? How are those at the lowest level being coached up or coached out? What improvements have been made to the recruiting and hiring processes this year?
- What steps have been taken this year to advance engagement with employees, parents, students, and donors? What data is available to accurately measure engagement (e.g., Net Promoter Score or other survey)?
- What progress has been made on the Strategic Growth Plan objectives? What have we learned? What adjustments have been made?
- What progress has been achieved on the Enrollment Growth Plan? What have we learned? What adjustments have been made?
- How has the chief administrator advanced his/her own level of self-knowledge and self-awareness? What progress was made in a professional coaching program? Were learning objectives achieved?
- Have appropriate contingency plans been prepared to address the changes that may be necessary in 2020-21?
- Does the school have a clearly defined and consistently implemented communication protocol and plan that supports a culture of trust and engagement?
Great wisdom should be exercised when collaboratively designing and implementing the performance evaluation process for the chief administrator. We have seen far too many boards under execute this vital part of the governance duty.
A data-driven evaluation process offers considerable advantages over a more subjective approach that is primarily rooted in the feelings and emotions of the board members and their network of influence. The latter is more common in organizations with a high degree of dysfunctional leadership behaviors and is a major barrier to sustainable growth.