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8 precision in conveying the directors' responses. The results differences in directors' assessments may be resolved after of self-assessment are discussed more specifically below. issues are clarified. Conversely, an apparent similarity in responses may mask divergent perceptions or assessment Informally compiled assessment results for directors tend approaches. In short, the self-assessment responses provide to relate more to individual perspectives and responses. the basis for board review of how its members view its per- Less formal compilation of assessment results tends to avoid formance. This is the staging ground to stimulate discussions, use of written materials entirely or makes minimal use of them. with the ultimate objective being to foster agreement for con- This facilitates presentation and discussion of the results. structive changes and to address shared concerns about per- Although the directors' responses may still be compiled and formance enhancements. The assessment should lead to con- discussed, there would normally be no formal documenta- sideration of follow-up actions by the board and by individual tion, and recordkeeping would be minimal. This helps avoid directors who are motivated to improve their effectiveness. possible disclosure of the self-assessment (which creates potential confidentiality concerns). In fact, the major advan- tage of compiling and sharing the self-assessment results WHAT ABOUT FOLLOW-UP TO THE ASSESSMENT? informally is that confidentiality is likely to be maximized, and the potential for disclosure outside the board is mini- The Handbook includes these different means of follow- mized. A less formal compilation of assessment results will up to self-assessment: (1) organizational behavior assess- tend to be more meaningful to individual directors than to the ment tools, (2) a goal-setting process, (3) an annotated bibli- board as a whole, because there typically will be less review ography of follow-up resources, and (4) application of other as a board of the detailed results. Such reviews are typically assessment levels or reassessment using the same instrument. limited to tabulations on overheads or erasable boards, or Each follow-up strategy or tool is discussed below. they generate brief notes that are not circulated or retained. Organizational behavior assessment tools. The Handbook Formally compiled assessment results for the board tend includes an optional organizational behavioral approach to to relate more to the collective pursuit of additional mea- board assessment developed by Dr. Edgar Schein. Dr. Schein sures for self-help. More formal compilation of assessment has identified several variables to measure group effectiveness results typically includes the use of statistics to get a better pic- in terms of (1) goals, (2) participation, (3) feelings, (4) diag- ture of the board's response as a whole. Directors' responses nosis of team problems, (5) leadership, (6) decisions, (7) trust, can be statistically tabulated to show average effectiveness and (8) creativity. The particular instrument developed by scores, ranges between high and low scores, and other mea- Dr. Schein is merely one example among many organiza- sures of dispersion among responses. The formally compiled tional behavior assessment tools, practices, and applications results give board members something they can collectively that are commercially available to groups, including policy- review in greater detail. This is sometimes viewed as an advan- making and oversight bodies. The optional organizational tage, providing an element that facilitates discussion. How- behavior assessment tool is included as Section VII in the ever, any concerns about confidentiality and leakage would Level III assessment. need to be adequately addressed by the board before formally compiled self-assessment results are produced or distributed. Goal-setting process. The Handbook includes a goal-setting process for transit boards that choose the Level II or Level III Use of assessment to foster a commitment to enhance assessment options. The goal-setting process is an approach to effectiveness and working relationships among board self-assessment based on adopting goals and subsequently members and between board and senior management. assessing whether self-defined goals have been met. Appendix Regardless of the format used to present the results of the A of the Handbook contains a sample of Chittenden County self-assessment (whether a less formal or more formal com- Transit Authority's 2002 board goals. A board using this pilation of responses and statistics is envisioned, for exam- process would need to articulate some goals and provide for ple), it is important for the board to emerge from the process a follow-up mechanism for this approach to be useful. with a clear picture of the directors' overall perceptions of board effectiveness in different performance categories. When Annotated bibliography of follow-up resources. The Hand- the self-assessment is seriously and genuinely undertaken by book contains an annotated bibliography (Appendix B) of individual directors, the board should have a clear indication board management materials related to the six categories of of how its constituents view its performance across the dif- assessing board performance: (1) goal-setting processes, ferent categories. The informal or formal dissemination of the (2) strategic planning, (3) fiduciary and legal responsibilities, range and variability of director responses provides insights (4) diversity, (5) CEO relations, and (6) public advocacy. Board as to the level of agreement on board effectiveness across responses to self-assessment could include targeting strengths performance categories. Boards may find that considerable and weaknesses for enhancement of best practices in con-
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9 junction with consulting the remedial references supplied in detail to pursue with regard to the six measures of board per- the Handbook. formance. Transit boards will be able to use the same assess- ment level (reassessment) or an alternative level whenever Application of other assessment levels or reassessment the board determines that a reassessment should be con- using the same instrument. The Handbook contains three ducted. Boards may wish to establish a timeframe for possi- levels of assessment, offering boards a choice of the level of ble reassessment as one means of follow-up.