Apr 6 2023

Collecting Feedback from Your Board

A friend of mine just emailed me and asked how I collect feedback from the Board after Board meetings. I have a good routine for this which I wrote about a little bit here but have since expanded.

First, we are disciplined about leaving an hour at the end of the board meeting for the following three things :

  • Executive session – directors only, including me – sometimes I’ll have my CFO Jack come for a few minutes at the beginning, depending on the topics. The topics can be about people on the team, or things I’m concerned about that I didn’t want to talk about with observers and team present. I tee up any topics in a separate memo that I send only to board members when I send the main board book out. My board meetings are very inclusive – lots of team members and observers present, so it’s good to have this time available case the Board wants to talk more openly with me about something or ask questions they didn’t feel like asking with the broader group in the room.
  • Closed session – I leave, so I give non-management directors an opportunity to talk about any issues related to me.
  • CEO Debrief – I ask one director to take notes for me during Closed Session, then that person calls me back in to debrief anything.

All three of these are important, and it’s important to do them every meeting, even if you don’t have any specific issues to discuss. That way, no one freaks out (including you) if suddenly and unexpectedly, there’s a part of the meeting to which they’re not invited.

The key to this is really leaving time for it. Now that board meetings are often on Zoom, a lot of CEOs have shrunk the time to 2-3 hours to avoid Zoom fatigue, but that doesn’t usually leave a full hour for this end-of-meeting routine. Finish your main meeting, give everyone 10 minutes to breathe, then come back for the final three steps of the meeting.

Then, I use this form after every meeting, which was a suggestion from Fred a few years back (not here or here, though these are also really good posts he wrote on this topic). I sent it during Executive Session and ask people to fill it out immediately after the meeting while things are fresh in their minds.

Quick, easy, effective. You should never finish a Board meeting and have no idea how it went.