Board members, particularly non-executive directors, are on the board to advise the CEO and the executive team. They are meant to be there as a ‘critical friend’ providing independent support and guidance. However, when it comes to giving a CEO constructive feedback, it’s all about how you say what you want to say.
If you serve on a board with your CEO, you’re likely to observe behaviours they could improve on, such as their presentation skills.
Is it appropriate to share your feedback with them?
Before doing so, think about whether they would welcome it.
Think about how they respond to feedback from colleagues.
Are they typically generous with their feedback?
When deciding whether to share your input, be careful about the timing.
It’s important not to rush.
Take into consideration the stress your CEO might be under and try to reach out at the right time.
Please provide them with feedback in a way that will benefit them. For example, if they wrote a report that’s a mess, you might say, “I’d love to help streamline the monthly report.”
“It has a ton of useful information, but I’m worried we might lose people at ten pages. Would you like me to help shorten it to five pages?”
While this will require more work, it will make your CEO, and you look good.
Finally, be sure to give your CEO positive feedback.
Let them know what they are doing well.
It’s not common for CEOs to receive this kind of input, which can strengthen your relationship and build trust between you.
This tip is adapted from “The Essentials: Managing Up,” by the Women at Work podcast.