Defining and evaluating the roles of the board

The board needs to understand and evaluate the role it plays and the way it can contribute to the organisation.

The idea of each board member having a review may seem cumbersome and unnecessarily formal, particularly if each board member is a volunteer.

However, it is important for each individual to have a discussion about what they want to contribute and how they feel they have been delivering against their own expectations.

The passion of volunteers needs to be embraced and frustrations dealt with appropriately so that they do not hinder effective decision-making.

Your organisation may want to take an informal approach and ensure your chair speaks with each board member at a suitable time.

Alternatively it may be more appropriate for a structure to be put in place where a meeting is scheduled for the purpose of review and reflection.

On the one side is accountability of your board and on the other side is the individual who will welcome the chance to discuss and reflect on the role and the value they are adding to your organisation.

Practical considerations:

  • Being familiar with the governing document e.g. articles if a registered company.
  • Reviewing and updating the governing document.
  • Being aware of the structure of the organisation.
  • Creating clear roles and divisions of responsibility and having role descriptions for key roles on the board.
  • Having clarity on the role of the board overall and the various functions it will fulfil.
  • Helping to appoint senior staff members and board members (elected, selected and independent - as your governing document allows and dictates).
  • Recruiting, appointing, monitoring and supporting the CEO.
  • Taking responsibility for the welfare of staff.
  • Having appropriate information on all aspects of their organisation.
  • Putting in place codes of conduct and terms of engagement for the board.
  • Ensuring board members understand their personal legal responsibilities.
  • Running effective board inductions.
  • Establishing division of responsibilities between the chair and chief executive and have them set out in writing and agreed by the board.
  • Providing all board members with on-going training and development to ensure they are edequately informed and confident in their roles.
  • Collectively reviewing and running a board skills audit once a year.
  • Ensuring each member of the board carries out a self-assessment and has an informal annual one-to-one meeting with the chair.
  • Ensuring the chair receives an annual formal review from a designated member or members (two maximum) of the board.
  • Ensuring that if your organisation is constituted as a company your directors are aware of company law requirements and their individual responsibilities.








The Rounders England board has taken time out to fully explore their roles and responsibilities, and to evaluate their performance.

This has resulted in a better understanding of the role of the board and its directors, which is particularly important as the organisation develops and moves from a volunteer-based organisation to a professionally led organisation.

The board has had to change to become more strategic as paid staff take on more of the operational responsibilities, and the performance evaluation has helped this process tremendously.

Alison Howard, Chief Executive Office, Rounders England








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