SKILLS AUDIT Board Skills Audit and Appraisal. For Executive and Non- Executive Directors, Trustees and Governors

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1 SKILLS AUDIT 2010 Board Skills Audit and Appraisal For Executive and Non- Executive Directors, Trustees and Governors

2 Introduction Since the early 1990s, various reports on corporate governance in the private, public and voluntary sectors have been very clear in their recommendations about improving collective board and individual director/governor/trustee performance, governance and appraisal. For example: Undertaking an audit is an essential component in measuring the health of governance in the organisation and planning for future development. Financial Reporting Council Providers boards should assess the effectiveness of their governance arrangements at least once a year. Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) the regulatory framework for social housing in England We have some concerns about the capacity of governing bodies, given their enhanced role in ensuring good performance. Providers should review their governance arrangements to ensure that members have the right skills and capacity to achieve organisational aims and objectives as well as to meet the regulatory standards. Chartered Institute of Housing Providers and their boards and governing bodies should be transparent with their tenants, service users and other stakeholders. Providers approaches to co-regulation should be honest and robust, and include evidence-based selfassessment, external challenge, and regular reporting to tenants. Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) the regulatory framework for social housing in England An effective board will provide good governance and leadership by working effectively both as individuals and as a team... setting aside time to reflect on performance and functioning of the board and its committees as teams, and identifying and dealing with any areas for improvement and supporting board members in their training and development, and to facilitate this, periodically reviewing the performance and development needs of each board member. Good Governance, A Code for the Voluntary and Community Sector Many codes are clear that as part of the openness and transparency of the governance of an organisation, boards should report annually on how that performance appraisal process has been conducted. The Board Skills Audit process is designed to improve the health of governance within your organisation and to ensure that all board members have a full understanding of the board s ability to discharge its legal responsibilities to all of its stakeholders.

3 Objectives of the Board Skills Audit While there is, inevitably, some apprehension among participants about any appraisal process, it is worth pointing out that this process is intended primarily as a developmental tool to enable boards to: Understand their relative performance strengths and weaknesses as a board Be clear about what will be required to enhance their strengths and minimise their weaknesses Produce and enact relevant board development plans and their associated activity. Board Skills Audit processes are in place and widely used by many organisations in differing sectors. This confidential and tailored process had been tried and tested for over a decade and has proved invaluable for boards in identifying skill gaps and in deciding how these gaps are to be filled. The process and the questionnaires to support the audit have evolved over time to include questions on board effectiveness. These too have provided useful information for board development purposes. The Skills Audit questionnaires are regularly amended to bring them fully into line with new and updated codes and changes in the governance environment. The four options Self-Appraisal by Individual Directors Each director completes a self-assessment questionnaire which results in a whole board and individual development report. Triangulation Self Appraisal and Appraisal by Chair and one other director To give greater depth, boards have the option of completing a tri-partite process where the individual director, the Chair and one other director complete separate questionnaires. This also results in a whole board and individual development reports. 360 Degree Self-Appraisal and Appraisal by each Executive and Non- Executive Director Under this option each director appraises each of their peers and the process again results in a whole board and individual development reports. Annual Appraisal of the Chair As an additional service, we also offer an independent, annual appraisal of the Chair by each director. This can be conducted electronically or on paper.

4 Expected Outcomes of the Skills Audit Process By the end of the audit each board member will be able to: Identify their relative performance strengths and weaknesses as an individual board member Have clarity about the collective strengths and weaknesses of the whole board Discuss and plan for options available to enhance strengths and minimise weaknesses Produce relevant board development plans Plan to undertake related development activity. The Board Skills Audit Process The audit process aims to provide the whole board with an insight into how the board works together, their positive behaviours and areas for possible improvement. It is important that the whole board owns this information rather than a more limited group. Objectives: The process aims to enable all board members to reflect and examine how they might improve their performance and the health of governance within their organisation. Undertaking an audit is an essential component in measuring the health of governance in the organisation. The auditor is looking largely at knowledge, understanding and process issues, such as effectiveness, contribution, skills levels and application. The Board Skills Audit process consists of up to five stages: Stage Activity 1 Briefing and information session for the whole board 2 Completion of questionnaires 3 Observation of a board meeting (optional) 4 5 NB Analysis and assessment of questionnaires and production of whole board and individual reports Feedback of the report to the whole board and development planning meeting Throughout the process and telephone support will be available to board members who request it.

5 The audit questionnaires can address the individual and collective understanding of member s responsibilities and skills levels in the areas of: Sector specific issues Finance Policies and procedures Organisational values and ethos Legal Performance monitoring Testing and strategy development Analytical skills Risk management Personal and communication skills Personal IT skills Organisational IT needs Duties and responsibilities Business environment Track record Follow-up Development Planning Meeting At a facilitated meeting, the board will discuss the Report and its recommendations. In particular, the board will: 1. Identify skills and performance issues 2. Set board performance objectives for the coming year 3. Agree development needs 4. Set development objectives 5. Agree a development plan 6. Set review dates. Further information For further information and costs please contact the Centre for Housing and Support Contact: Carol Holt Telephone: Address: The Centre for Housing and Support Elgar House Shrub Hill Road Worcester WR4 9EE The Centre for Housing and Support is part of the Cornwall College Group

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