“We can’t just sit back and wait for feedback to be offered, particularly when we’re in a leadership role. If we want feedback to take root in the culture, we need to explicitly ask for it.” – Ed Batista

I love this quote because I’m all about leaders walking the walk. I scratch my head when I talk to successful Executive Directors who are dedicated to employee retention and satisfaction, but they aren’t prioritizing their own leadership development by asking for an annual performance review from their board. Although, it’s also important to mention that you shouldn’t have to ask for one, as this is the board’s role in hiring, supporting, and evaluating the Executive Director, more often than not, Executive Directors do have to take the reins.

The annual evaluation for the Executive Director is just as important as employee evaluations. If you are going to create a culture that values and prioritizes feedback, you must not only give feedback but be sure you are receiving it too!

If you don’t have a formal Executive Director evaluation process in place, the good news is this is the perfect time of year to create one.

Here are 5 steps to get you started.

1. If you are the Executive Director, speak up and let the board know an evaluation is important to you and why. Performance evaluations make employees (including the Executive Director!) feel appreciated and respected while also providing a tangible way to measure success.

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Check your state nonprofit association for an evaluation template that you can customize to fit your organization. Ask a partner organization or a nonprofit colleague if they would be willing to share their template with you. Gather a couple options and share with the board.

3. Work with your board to establish measurable goals. The 4th quarter is the perfect time to do this. What benchmarks need to be reached in 2022? What are the organization’s strategic priorities and how is the Executive Director accountable for achieving them? Measurable goals set clear expectations and ensure the Executive Director and board are on the same page.

4. Include feedback from the team. Getting feedback from staff and board members demonstrates you value and respect their input. It also shows that as the leader you are committed to learning and growing together.

5. Evaluate compensation. This is a great time to examine compensation for the Executive Director and make appropriate adjustments. Do a scan of similar organizations in the area- is your organization’s compensation package in line with the market?


I know the 4th quarter is busy but setting aside time to plan for the Executive Director performance evaluation is time well spent. This process will strengthen the communication between the board and Executive Director, demonstrate the Executive Director is valued, and get your organization on its way to creating a culture that prioritizes feedback, trust, and transparency.


Want to talk about specifics for your organization? Schedule a time to chat with me- let’s work together.

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