Assessing Our Performance for Our Future

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Ernie CerdenaBy Ernesto A. Cerdena, PHDc, RT, CRA, FAHRA

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Here’s a quick history lesson: Waterloo, New York was declared the official birthplace of Memorial Day in 1966. Waterloo was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, first celebrated on May 5, 1866, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags. Memorial Day today, observed on the last Monday of May, honors the men and women who died while serving in the US military. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of summer.

The approach of summer marks the end of another term of the AHRA board, which means it is time for the 2016-2017 Board of Directors Election (have you voted yet?), and it is also time for our annual board evaluation, where the board as a whole and/or each individual director is evaluated. It can be performed by the board itself or by someone on behalf of the board. The members of the AHRA board completed a baseline performance survey in October last year. A comparative board performance survey will be distributed in the next few weeks for completion and tabulation prior to the Annual Meeting.

Assessing the performance of the board is critical to the success of our association. Imagine if you worked for an organization where you had put in a great deal of effort and commitment without any feedback. You would not know if your performance is lacking, mediocre, or above the ordinary. A sound board performance assessment program can prove invaluable for board members by helping to nurture board strengths and further develop the individual directors’ talents.

A comprehensive and effective board assessment focuses on the following elements:

Mission and Strategic Planning: This addresses how clearly the board knows the association’s objectives and refers back to them, how much the board members agree on the direction the association should take, and how strongly the board engages with the governance’s strategic planning.

Assessing the structure of the board: This involves examining not only the board’s composition but also its framework, including by laws, policies, and procedures, which serve as the guiding principles of the board.

Board culture: This involves the established values of an association and the dynamics within the board, such as trust and communication.

Financial aspects: This focuses on the revenue, expenses, and the generation of funding to sustain the association’s current programs and pursue its goals.

Processes and practices: This refers to the way the board carries out its role representing the association, including conflict management, diversity, knowledge-and evidence-based decision making processes, ethics, and integrity.

Structured board meetings: As board membership is voluntary, all of our board members have other professional obligations at their place of employment. The individual board member’s availability can be limited. Despite this, it is essential that the board assesses its meeting practices, such as monthly calls and face to face board meetings, and discusses areas for improvement.

Working relationship with the AHRA Staff: It is important to delineate the roles and responsibilities between the board (Governance) and the CEO and staff (Operations). Understanding individual responsibilities mitigates a potential conflict of unnecessary involvement of the board with the daily management and operations of the association.

Planning for the board’s future: This involves the planning and identification of future AHRA leaders as successors. Now that the board election is open for voting, it is imperative that we choose the right people to represent our association. Keep these characteristic traits in mind while filling out your ballots:

  • Industry knowledge: Does this member know the industry? How does this member keep himself/herself current in our industry?
  • Meeting preparation and commitment: Is this member able to find the time to prepare for and fully participate in important board meetings?
  • Director’s discussion insight: Is this member able to initiate healthy dialogue?
  • Ability to handle conflict respectfully: How does this member handle inevitable disagreement or conflict within the board? As leaders, we often give directions that are accepted. But sometimes, it is hard to accept a “no” in response to our ideas and recommendations.
  • Ability to listen and consider other’s views: While the director thinks as an individual, the board acts a whole. Based on the individual comments and follow-up questions, each director must carefully listen to and weigh the input of others.
  • Ability to pose challenging questions: Asking high-quality questions may be difficult and nerve-wracking. Does this member possess the confidence to respectfully ask challenging questions?
  • How this member adds value to the board and association: What tangible and intangible qualities does this member have that will bring value to the effectiveness of the board? What were and what will be his/her contributions (past and future)?
  • Ideas for becoming more effective: Please view individual candidates’ statements to see each member’s plan to improve the effectiveness of the board and the association.

The future of our association is in your hands. As the board evaluates its performance for the past year, AHRA members are responsible for electing the right people to sustain the movement of AHRA to the next level. Please take the time to vote before the polls close on June 13. Thank you for everything that you do and for your continued support. See you all at the most awaited and exciting Annual Meeting next month!

Bibliography: Staff. Memorial Day. 2009. Accessed May 31, 2016.

Bohn K, Davis S. Is Your Board Ready For Peer Evaluations? Corporate Board. 2016; 37(216): 7-11.

Ernesto A. Cerdena, PHDc, RT, CRA, FAHRA is the president of the 2015-2016 AHRA Board of Directors. He is the director of diagnostic imaging/radiology services at Waterbury Hospital in Waterbury, CT. He can be reached at

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