Director Effectiveness Survey

We offer a range of board, committee and individual director reviews that can be tailored to meet an organisation's specific requirements. Our expertise and experience includes carrying out and overseeing over 200 board, committee and director surveys and evaluations for large ASX corporations, private companies, government entities and not-for-profit organisations.

Organisations spend a significant amount of time, money and effort developing and appraising the performance of their CEO and the senior leadership team. Very few organisations, however, invest similar resources into their directors. Organisations that develop and appraise their directors testify to the importance of such action and the significant return they achieve on that investment.

Our Director Effectiveness Survey is also referred to by some as a Director 360 Feedback Survey. It's an invaluable tool in the learning, development and improvement program for individual directors. The purpose of the Director Effectiveness Survey is to improve the self awareness of each director and to identify actions which each director can take to improve their own effectiveness. The results for the directors as a whole will identify those issues that directors excel at overall and those where they need to improve. The survey is an important part of a board's corporate governance toolkit.

There's nothing much more important that having an effective and cohesive board that displays a real commitment to shaping and influencing the execution of the organisation's strategy. That board will hold each other accountable and will consider their collective success more important than their own.

Unlike most 360 or effectiveness surveys which are quite cumbersome and time consuming, our Director Effectiveness Survey has been designed to be unobtrusive and to be completed in one web based survey by each participant over the web in less than 35 minutes. Our Director Effectiveness Survey has the following core benefits

  • We use a special online data collection technology that allows all directors to both self-assess their own effectiveness, as well as that of all others in one survey. Each survey statement only needs to be read once and then an assessment is made in respect of each director, as well as a self-assessment. This adds reliability to the results, as respondents can balance their consideration of each director's effectiveness against the others
  • The survey can also be completed by the CEO and leadership team members that have regular contact with each director. This will be of significant additional benefit to each director
  • The survey can be tailored to your requirements and be adjusted to take into account your competency framework and your other objectives of the survey

Also where a leadership team provides input to a Director Effectiveness Survey process it can be useful to have directors also provide input to the effectiveness of the leadership team - refer to our Leadership Team Effectiveness Survey.

Survey framework and survey statements

Our Director Effectiveness Survey uses the following framework:

1. Personal attributes

2. Teamwork

3. Leadership

4. Oversight 

The survey deals with the main issues that are critical in determining whether directors as a whole and whether individual directors are effective. All those key issues are captured in 25 survey statements some examples of which follow

  • Displays sound commercial judgement
  • Displays an independence of mind and judgement (including courage to challenge the status quo)
  • Adds new perspectives to discussions
  • Presents views well (i.e., is articulate and persuasive)
  • Sets a good example
  • Actively insists on high standards (including of integrity, performance and risk management)
  • Understand the difference between oversight and management and acts accordingly
  • Addes focus to the matters that will impact the organisation's success

The survey statements can be added to or tailored at your organisation's request. We also have a short form survey that includes up to 14 survey statements chosen from a large suite of 27 statements.

The Director Effectiveness Report

The Director Effectiveness Report is designed to both help improve the self awareness of each team member and identify actions that they can take to improve their own effectiveness.

Individual reports show each person's rating of them as well as the rating of each person by others. This highlights areas of strength which can be leveraged. Areas for improvement often exist where others perceive an individual to be less effective than the way they perceive themself. Sometimes the gap in perception can arise if some respondents don't know the individual well, or they could relate to matters where the individual's intentions haven't been translated into behaviours observed by others. It is important to recognise that others cannot observe your intentions; they can only observe your behaviours. An individual's intentions do not always translate into observed behaviours.

The report also shows how the rating of each person by others is compared to the rating by others of all directors. This perspective highlights the perceptions of the individual's relative strengths compared to other directors.

Written responses made by the individual and others to the two questions in relation to that director's contribution to the board are included in the report verbatim and unedited. These written responses add context and further insights to the numerical data included in the report. No written responses are attributed to any particular person, unless such person intentionally included their name in their written comments, or unintentionally identified themselves by virtue of their writing style or particular views.

A separate group report shows the average results for the directors as a whole which identifies those issues that the directors excels at overall and those issues where it can most improve. These overall perspectives can be benchmarked against the results for other boards.

Next Step

Each director's report is normally provided to them, either by the Chairman or us, as part of a pre-agreed debrief and feedback process. Each director is encouraged to design, write up and then act on their own development plan. This may involve some internal or third party coaching and/or mentoring. Where it becomes clear that most or all the directors could improve in one or two areas that are important to the board's success, some joint training and development is often arranged.

Having set a clear baseline, the Director Effectiveness Survey can be carried out at regular intervals (normally every two or three years) to determine improvements achieved and the impact of specific improvement initiatives.

For more information on Director Effectiveness, contact Nicholas Barnett, Chief Executive Officer, at or contact our office on +61 (3) 9909 9209.


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We've published a range of evidence-based research studies including our highly sought-after books: "  7 Business Habits that Drive High Performance", "GPS for your Organisation®: how to energise your employees and build sustainable high performance", "The best 101 ways to improve your board" and "Gender Agenda: Unlocking the power of diversity in the boardroom"

Nicholas Barnett, CEO of Insync, features in a Sky News interview with Carson Scott about Insync's board survey research "The best 101 ways to improve your board"

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