Chair 360 Annual Review
About the Chair’s 360 appraisal
A competent chair of governors has been recognised as one of the vital elements of effective governance, creating the conditions for the overall board and individual governor effectiveness and leading the board on positively influencing senior leaders and subsequently, institutional performance – but how do you know if you are an effective chair?
360o reviews are a common tool used to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of those whose performance we wish to assess. However, in our opinion, the most common forms of these reviews are flawed. Although carried out with the best intentions, they cannot always be counted upon to deliver the required results. This is because the data that is gathered, is rarely reliable.
Research shows us that we are hopelessly unreliable when rating other people’s behaviour and competencies – this is because we are not objective, no matter how much we try to be. Any rating we give, says more about us as a rater than it does about the person being rated. For example, if you were to rate the Chair highly on setting a clear vision, all we learn is that the chair is clearer on that vision than you. If you rate the chair low, we learn that you are clearer, only relative to the chair. To accurately rate a chair’s competencies, you would need to ensure the raters are a perfectly representative sample of the competencies we are trying to measure – that is how polls work. A governing body, by contrast, is a skewed sample and therefore delivers inaccurate data.
Thankfully, there is a simple solution. Whilst we are poor raters of the behaviour of others, we are good raters of our behaviours and feelings. For example, the statement, ‘I am clear about what the college’s vision is’ is good data compared to the statement, ‘The chair sets a clear vision for the college’. Likewise, ‘I feel my opinions are heard’ is good data compared to, ‘The chair is a good listener’.
In this context then, this tool has been thoughtfully composed to ask each person to rate their experiences, behaviours, and feelings regarding tasks and responsibilities linked to the chair’s role. The resulting data will give a clear and credible result that the chair can use to become more effective in their role. Overall, it adds further depth to the Governing Body’s self-evaluation and enables the Governing Body and individuals to understand their strengths and areas for development.
The tool focuses on the requirements of the Chair in their role. These requirements take into account the Department of Education’s Chair Competency Framework (as it refers to the Chair’s leadership, behaviours, and technical competencies ), and aligned to the template Chair’s role description on Governance4fe, and includes four key competencies expected of a Chair:
- leading effective governance
- building the team
- business planning and institutional improvement
- personal attributes
Please note the nuance of the statements change depending on whether they are being asked of Governors, the Chair, the Principal/CEO, or the Governance Professional. For example, statement 1 for the Chair is ‘I lead the board on setting the college strategy and I, along with other stakeholders, are clear what the college’s vision is’. The statement for a Governor is ‘I am able to contribute to setting the college strategy and I, along with all stakeholders, are clear what the college’s vision is’.
- The Chair and the governing body agree that a 360o review of the Chair should take place.
- The Governance Professional circulates the relevant link to the review tool to all members of the governing body, including the Chair, the Principal/CEO, and his/herself.
- An anonymous response and tally process capture comments that newer or more reticent members may be hesitant to otherwise express. The resulting diagnostics form a report and action plan for the Chair.
- The Chair then has a coaching conversation with Fiona Chalk, Consultant at Governance4FE, to support him/her to interpret the results and discuss relevant development opportunities.
- The Chair then completes the Reflections and Comments section of the report and action plan.
- The final report is circulated to the Chair and the person/persons within the Corporation, with oversight of the process.
The review itself will not improve the performance of the Chair, this only comes from a commitment on their behalf to develop and become more effective.
This review is available as part of our External Governance Review package, or as a standalone package.
Pages from a generated report are illustrated below.