Whether a client asks us to, or not, we always do benchmark each new evaluation against others we have undertaken. And often, we will share some of this comparative information with the client. Obviously this is on a strictly ‘no names’ and confidential basis, and we would never convey any information that could in any way identify a company but where we have encountered similar issues, on Boards with similar profiles, it is sensible to use that resource. Sometimes, this is a private conversation between the interviewing and analysing team. It may never reach the client, if it is not necessary. But in our experience, this is often a good use of our knowledge and very wide client background.
What is benchmarking, in Board Evaluation terms?
Perhaps it is easier to start with what it is not. It is not a case of analysing, for example, one tent manufacturer, and making comparisons with another tent manufacturer which we happen also to have evaluated. You should be analysing your own competitors. Benchmarking in Board evaluations is largely about having encountered the same, or a very similar issue, on a Board with a not dissimilar profile in terms of size and composition. The activities of the group, or its sector are largely irrelevant although other factors such as geographical reach, and sometimes, regulatory factors, are sometimes relevant. Having established a common area that needs attention, we are able to draw upon our experience to discuss how Company Board A reacted; how they adjusted (or not); and the outcomes. This can be carefully used to help Company B, in some cases.
This is often most helpful when the areas that the Board thinks – or we advise – need addressing are about the following:
- Board ‘chemistry’; the personalities and how they can be managed to eliminate (or minimise) potential conflict and maximise positive contributions.
- Board composition, especially when a Board is contemplating making changes to address the point above, or to add an area of experience or personality trait that is missing.
- Board behaviour in terms of how the ‘team’ works together. Does it have the right balance of tension, challenge, and support, for example?
- Board support. Are there any areas around the papers, presentations and discussions that could be addressed to improve your effectiveness?
- Benchmarking against the last evaluation that we conducted for you. This is one significant benefit of re-appointment (we have explored this, with many of the pros and the cons, in deeper detail here).
And sometimes, quite healthily and understandably, Boards simply want to know: how are we doing? How do we look, when compared to similarly constructed Boards? And we are able to tell you, because we work with such a diverse range of clients that we have usually met all the shapes and variations. That is not to say we don’t meet with absolutely new challenges sometimes, because we do. But then, everything is new, once! If we honestly have never encountered your issue before, one thing you can we sure of is, we won’t pretend that we have.
So when you appoint us, we will be benchmarking your Board. If you want to explore this is further detail, please contact us.