One of the required authorities and responsibilities of a Health Center Board is “approving the selection, evaluation and if necessary, the dismissal or termination of the Executive Director/CEO from the Health Center Program Executive.” While industry best practice is to evaluate the Executive Director/CEO on an annual basis, this is NOT a HRSA requirement.
Evaluation of the Executive Director/CEO is critical to the success of the position and the health center overall. Evaluation provides the opportunity to clarify expectations, set organizational goals, improve on any identified weaknesses, and/or build on past successes. When evaluating, Board of Directors should remember to:
- Evaluate based on the job description and other tangible documents: At times, job descriptions have “other duties as assigned” listed, which is not good for performance evaluation purposes. The evaluation process should rely heavily on the job description and previously identified priorities and projected accomplishments for the year. The process should be mutually agreed upon, and performance goals should be measurable. The health center’s strategic plan may be another tool that can be utilized to determine whether the goals of the health center were accomplished. If measurable goals were not met, this doesn’t mean the Executive Director/CEO did not perform well. For example, many health centers had to place projects on hold and pivot to deal with emergent issues due to the pandemic. It’s important for the Board of Directors to include qualitative feedback in evaluations.
- Provide constructive feedback once the evaluation is completed: Feedback on the evaluation should be clear and concise. Even if the results are positive, it’s important for the Board of Directors to meet and have a conversation regarding any trends identified during the evaluation process. If there are areas where improvement is needed, provide feedback in a constructive manner, with specific examples on how the Board would like to see the Executive Director/CEO improve during the next evaluation period. It is important for the Executive Director/CEO to be able to provide responses in a safe environment and receive clarification, if needed, to ensure accountability for performance.
- Foster an environment of growth: Fostering growth means setting reasonable and clear goals. A growth mindset will allow the Executive Director/CEO to develop talents, abilities, and emotional intelligence. This type of work environment will encourage the Executive Director/CEO to provide the Board with forward thinking and innovative/generative projects that would benefit patients.
Failure to adequately evaluate the Executive Director/CEO can be costly, and may result in mistrust, strained working relationships, ongoing poor performance, and even staff turnover. The outcome of the evaluation is a strong affirmation of the Executive Director/CEO’s performance, which in turn provides a positive working environment for all within the health center.