Being Accountable Starts With Board Members

Reality check – If health care organizations are going to succeed in their current environment it will require board members and their CEOs to reassess their understanding of the board’s accountability to its community; its governance model; its strategic plan; its responsibilities for clinical quality; patient safety, finances, patient, physician and employee satisfaction and its ability to assess the recommendations and performance of executive management.

Never before has there been more of an emphasis placed on Trustees leadership skills, business acumen, risk management, collaboration, diplomacy and the ability to think and act proactively.

Health care organizations are staggering from regulations to reimbursement, medical treatment advances to an aging population.

How should boards approach their responsibilities today with the relentless fast moving stream of changes?  

How do you  find out if their board and its members are being held accountable for their role responsibilities?

Best practice strongly suggests annually conducting an Individual Board Member Performance Self-Assessment.

It is essential for the board to take a timeout each year to think about and rate their own performance. This self assessment is not about the performance of the CEO or the management team. The purpose is to evaluate the board’s satisfaction with aspects of its performance and to be candid on the areas needing improvement.  

The objectives are twofold:

  1. Enable the board to reflect on its overall performance during the past 12 months and identify area of strength and areas needing improvement.
  2. Develop action plans to continue the board’s educational development and improvement in its governance style.

Self Assessment questions range from 15 – 20 questions with a rating scale #1 Disagree, #5 agree #10 strongly agree. Each question includes, “How can we improve?”

Each trustee independently and anonymously rates the board’s performance on the set of questions, i.e., “Our board has developed trustee performance expectations that are shared with new candidates and used annually as part of the ongoing performance assessment and reappointment.”

Effective boards take the time and expend the effort to ensure each trustee has a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities and understands the performance expectation the board has of them. Having informed, engaged trustees committed to continuous learning and performance improvement is essential to the board’s effectiveness.

Board members must be responsible for making a contribution and for their own behavior – being on time, coming prepared, asking good questions and engaging in constructive discussions and decision making. It only takes a single director’s dysfunctional behavior to undermine the entire board’s ability to work together and do good work.

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