Corporate governance - appraising board performance

Van Heerden, Lodewyk (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2005-03)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Picture the scene: It's Monday morning and the main article in Business Day is headlined ·Company X Board is under investigation for not diclosing the truth about its financial wellbeing". In recent times life has been very messy and difficult for many boards, but many of them are in a better position to direct their organisation and to add real shareholder value. A sequence of events triggered board changes in organisations. Many boards have realised over the last few years that the rules for direction-giving have changed. The need for accountability is high, the status quo needs to be challenged and sound strategic thinking is critical in their decision-making. Boards need to establish a performance culture with the correct people, equipped with the necessary competencies and capabilities. Leading shareholders demanded board appraisals to evaluate the continuous underperformance of board structures and processes. Some of the questions asked are, if the board is effective as a group to meet the organisation's purpose and if they can monitor the external and internal environment effectively. It is also asked whether the skills and competencies of individual members are sufficient to enable them to fulfill their risk assessment and decision-making director roles sufficiently. Board members must understand their roles to evaluate their personal development and board needs. Boards must ensure a process for appropriate development plans for their individual directorial duties. They need to define which essential strategic decisions are made during the various administrative and information sharing meetings. The annual cycles of boards are important, as is the need to check that all accountabilities are on track. This feedback does not merely concern financial matters. It is important to evaluate strategic decisions to ensure that they are carefully measured against the targets set at the beginning of the year. Many boards have adopted a triple bottom line approach, measuring their financial performance, physical environment and social responsibility reports against agreed targets. These targets need to be incorporated in a board scorecard which will graphically depict the board's value-adding activities. These scorecards will give any board an indication of its effectiveness. Boards have accepted evaluation processes and have gone through a steep learning curve in developing and implementing them. There are numerous approaches to evaluate board performance. Each board must decide whether it is better to do a peer level evaluation, outside evaluation or follow the bottom-up approach. Formal board evaluations have given boards more credibility and have helped to identify gaps in the development of board members. Boards must be developed to become more competent at direction-giving, ultimately in order to contribute to the effectiveness of the organisation. Boards must continue to drive the organisation ahead, while keeping it under control. Board members must realise that their ultimate tests are business effectiveness, in that they must add shareholder value to the balance sheet, and business efficiency, referring to the improvement realised on the profit and loss accounts.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Stel jouself voor : Dit is Maandagoggend en die hoofartikel in Business Day is as volg: "Daar is 'n ondersoek gelas na Maatskappy X se kredietwaardigheid rakende hulle finansiele welstand." Direksies oor die laaste paar jare was in 'n warboel. Ons vind tans dat organisasies beter gelei word en dat welvaart geskep word vir alle aandeelhouers. Heelwat faktore het aanleiding gegee dat direksies verander het. Die reels om leiding te gee het verander: direksies moet meer aanspreeklikheid neem, die status quo word meer bevraagteken en goeddeurdagte strategiese denke is almal bydraende faktore. Direksies moet streef om 'n prestasie-kuItuur te vestig met lede wat oor die nodige vaardighede en vermoens beskik. Aandeelhouers dring aan dat direksies se prestasie beoordeel moet word. Tipiese vrae wat gevra word is: is die direksie effektief as 'n groep om die organisasie se primere doel na te streef en kan hulle die interne en eksterne faktore effektief monitor? Individuele direksielede moet oor die nodige bevoegdhede beskik om voldoende risk-analise en direksie-besluitnemings uit te voer. Direksielede moet hulle onderskeie ontwikkelingsrolle verstaan. Dit moet duidelik gedefinieer word watter kritiese strategiese besluite word by watter vergaderings geneem. Jaarlikse siklusse vir direksies is belangrik, dit stel hulle in staat om te evalueer of al die strategiese besluite wat geneem is, uitgevoer is teenoor die ooreengekome doelwitte. Direksies evalueer meestal hulle finansiele prestasie, fisiese omgewing en sosiale verantwoordelikheid teenoor ooreengekome doelwitte. Hierdie doelwitte word meestal ingesluit in die organisasie se telkaart. Die doel van die telkaart is om vir direksies 'n aanduiding te gee of hulle effektief is of nie. Baie direksies het een of ander vorm van evaluasie geimplimenteer. Daar is verskeie benaderings om direksie-prestasie te evalueer. Elke direksie moet self besluit watter benadering is die mees geskikte - eksterne evaluering of "peer to peer" evaluering. Formele evaluering gee meer kredietwaardigheid aan die proses en help ook met die identifisering van ontwikkelingsmoontlikhede. Direksies moet fokus op ontwikkeling sodat hulle meer bevoeg kan raak om beter leiding te gee in die organisasie. Direksies moet onthou dat die bepalende toets is besigheideffektiwiteit, waar aandeelhouer-waardetoevoeging gemeet word en of daar verbeterde besigheidsdoeltreffendheid op die wins en verliesrekening is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50305
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