Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fast Feedback Tool

Here’s a Fast Feedback tool that will immediately improve your board and committee meetings.

Yesterday, I facilitated a one-hour Nominating Committee meeting via conference call. At the end of the one-hour call, the newly elected committee chair asked for feedback.

“At every board or committee meeting I chair,” he told us, “I always ask each participant to rate the effectiveness of our meeting.  So on a scale of 1.00 to 5.00 (5.00 is high), I’ll ask each of you to give me your rating. How did we do?”

The seven participants each shared their rating. The CEO gave us a 5.00—which was an encouragement to everyone.

At our next meeting, I know two things will happen:
1) We’ll be asked to rate the meeting.
2) Throughout the meeting, we’ll be thoughtfully contributing (listening more than talking) to help the ratings stay high!

It’s a brilliant idea—and it took less than three minutes.

Romans 12:3 reminds us: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…”  This Fast Feedback tool will remind everyone to do just that.

QUESTION: What if…you’re the chair and the Fast Feedback exercise reveals low scores?  What would you say?

Friday, February 8, 2013

We All Need Feedback

This week I participated in a CEO/board chair symposium for a niche segment in the nonprofit world.  While I gleaned several big ideas every day, my “Aha!” moment was an unintentional consequence of a presenter’s blunder.

A highly-credentialed workshop leader inspired us with the power of stories—how to use simple customer stories to enhance our brands. He said effective stories must be short, true and memorable.

Here’s the irony! When he finally shared a compelling story with our group, he was already 50 minutes into his presentation on how to leverage stories! The story was powerful—and added punch to his presentation—but he did not model the power of story. 
He didn’t practice 
what he preached.

I thought to myself. “Wow—with just a small dose of gracious feedback from a colleague, he could improve his presentations by 50 or 100 percent.” 

Then I had this Holy Spirit nudge. “John, you too! If you were open to feedback you could improve your role as a board chair by 50 or 100 percent.” 

Gulp! So here’s the point: all of us need feedback. It’s so obvious to others—but less obvious to ourselves. So how do we get better?
   • Ask an impartial person to observe our board meetings—and give us feedback.
   • Take 10 minutes at the end of a board meeting and conduct a checklist self-assessment. Did I contribute? Did I model God-honoring graciousness? Did I listen more than I talked?
   • Ask another CEO or board chair to coach you and your board. 

Why? Boards must model excellence if we want our CEOs, staff and volunteers to model excellence.  God is honored when we get better at governance! God is honored when we ask for feedback—and when we practice what we preach, our CEOs will ask for feedback.

Friday, February 1, 2013

What Really Needs the Greatest Improvement? Not Fundraising!

The executive summary of the ECFA 2012 Governance Survey was published last month and so boardrooms have been buzzing about the governance trends and benchmarks from 1,600 CEOs, board chairs and board members of ECFA accredited organizations. (Click here for a complimentary PDF of the 48-page report or to order a printed copy.)

One of ten highlights noted in the report was the response to this question: “Of the [10] organizational areas listed below, what are the Top 5 areas that NEED THE GREATEST IMPROVEMENT in your ministry?”

Board members listed the Top 5 in this order (greatest need first): 
   •  Need #1: Fundraising
   •  Need #2: Strategic Planning
   •  Need #3: Marketing & Public Relations
   •  Need #4: Achieving Mission Results
   •  Need #5: Human Resources

CEOs, board chairs and board members all agreed that fundraising was the #1 area needing the greatest improvement. “Governance” was listed as Need #8 by board chairs and board members and as Need #7 by CEOs. Where would your board members rank governance?

In her thoughtful blog, Generous Matters, Rebekah Basinger, board and development consultant and co-author of Growing Givers’ Hearts, commented on the ECFA survey results—challenging CEOs and boards to think differently about the area needing greatest improvement. 

In a January blog, “Nonprofit Leader, Fundraising Isn’t Your Board’s Problem,” Basinger writes, “At the end of the day (or the fiscal year), legitimacy is the most precious gift the board—corporately and as individuals—can give. Committing to good governance is the most important work of the board. It’s every organization’s single greatest need.
 “So nonprofit leader, 
fundraising isn’t your board’s problem. 
You are, 
by continuing to act as though fundraising is.”

She adds, “If you put good governance first, fundraising and money won’t be problems in the long-term.” (Click here to read the full blog.)

I agree with her and I’ll add my own color commentary to the survey results during the ECFA webinar with Cameron Doolittle on Feb. 12, 2013, “Results of the 2nd Annual ECFA 2012 Governance Survey.” Register here.

QUESTION: What are the Top 5 areas that need the greatest improvement in your ministry?