Saturday, July 21, 2007

Boardroom battles - lessons for governance and appraisal of chief executives

Boardroom battles - with the resignation of both a chief executive and a Chair (ex-MP Kerry Pollard) at William Sutton Homes - have recently raged within the Affinity Sutton group, one of the largest housing association groups in the country. Such problems aren’t very helpful in terms of reputation, partnerships, etc.

If you are curious about the publicly known (and complicated) details, I’d recommend a look in Inside Housing or the Borehamwood & Elstree Times.

More importantly, I think all organisations – whether housing associations, third sector or whatever – should have a quick look at their procedures for chief executive appraisal. (I fear that internal auditors don't often review this area - something for audit committees to ponder.)

Chief executive appraisal appears to be at the heart of the Affinity Sutton problems. It is not unusual either – before now, I’ve been asked to review the problems arising chief execs leaving.

Generally, I believe that the performance review of chief executive is a critical but neglected function of governance. It is easy to forget the basic but easy things like documenting appraisals and ensuring board members are aware of the results of appraisals. Of course, appraisal arrangements have to be well thought through and clear to all concerned where there are parent and subsidiary organisations in a group structure – as with Affinity Sutton and William Sutton.

Let Affinity Sutton be a lesson to us all.

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