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Don's Corner

CEO Evaluations

Evaluation of the Executive Director: Goals, Processes, Resources & Cautions

Evaluation of Christian leaders is a hit and miss proposition. Some organizations and ministries do a very effective job of annually reviewing their Chief Executive Officer. I’m aware of other situations where a leader served for seven years and had to ask for his first evaluation. Many other leaders receive their first evaluation when they’re asked to leave.

There is a better way. I propose that the Board Chairman and a Board Personnel Committee develop an evaluation process, which will be helpful to the Director, as well as provide accountability to the Board of Directors.

I recommend that you consider an evaluation as a way to measure the Director’s effectiveness on bottom line results.

Here are some of the areas for evaluation:

  • The quality of information and recommendations to the Board – The Board should be receiving timely reports with full disclosure of all ministry issues, progress, results and difficult issues.
  • Execution of the mission – The Executive Director is responsible to carry out the mission of the ministry through his work and the efforts of the staff.
  • Overall financial health of the organization – This includes operation income, capital income and the building of an endowment fund.
  • Organizational support – The extent of support for the organization through programs, volunteers and effective public relations.
  • Staff management – Are the staff growing as individuals and professionals? How would you evaluate the new staff the Director is hiring?
  • Measurable progress toward long-range goals – A three to five year ministry master plan can serve as an on-going guide to evaluation.
  • Success in achieving the goals set forth in the previous evaluation – The Board and Director should agree on the goals for the next evaluation period, i.e., next year.
  • How well he/she works within the job description given by the Board – This means evaluation of all aspects of the Director’s work. The key points of the job description should be discussed with feedback on areas for improvement, as well as positive reinforcement on the areas of accomplishment and growth.

Here are a few good rules for evaluation of an Executive Director.

  • Don’t ask the staff to evaluate the Director. It can easily lead to end-runs around the Director to the Board and vice versus.
  • Consider the formal evaluation a positive attempt to improve the Director’s performance. An evaluation should be viewed as a pro-active, positive act.
  • Emphasize the area of performance that reflects the organization’s priorities. The Director needs to keep priorities in order and the evaluation will help to demonstrate if the priorities are focused.
  • Encourage dialogue between both parties. This is not a monologue delivered by the Board Chairman. Rather it is a dialogue with lots of give and take and positive interaction, as well as suggestive ways to improve.
  • Focus on the Director’s performance…not on his or her personality. As soon as it becomes personal, everybody loses.
  • Recognize and reward the Director’s positive achievements – It is important to celebrate when the Director has not only met goals, but also exceeded them.
  • Set measurable and timely goals to correct any deficiencies in performance. If there are areas for improvement, there must be measurable goals as to how improvement will be determined.
  • Review the evaluation process each year when you have completed the most recent one. Every evaluation process can be improved upon.

What are some sources of evaluation forms and helps? Warm Beach Christian Camps and Conference Center has developed a very good evaluation form for their Executive Director, Ed McDowell. I suggest that you contact Ed at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In addition, the Non-Profit Foundation Board has timely materials, which can be purchased to assist in this key area.

Any time an evaluation is completed, compensation must be considered. A good merit pay system will allow a Director to grow both professionally and personally, as well as having a strong sense of accountability for their performance.

The process is important, the timing is critical, but most importantly the evaluation must be done on a regular basis. To fail to do this is to fail in the role of being a good Board of Directors.

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