Governance Structure and Operations Reviews
All boards should periodically “take a step back” to assess the board and committee organizational structure, operating policies, the effectiveness of the board in undertaking its fiduciary responsibilities, etc. Westman & Associates Consulting can:
- Provide the framework for such a review.
- Serve as an independent vehicle to gather impressions from individual board members, staff, and other stakeholders.
- Utilize our knowledge of governance best practices to recommend changes.
Board Orientation and Continuing Development
As a result of facilitating numerous board self-assessment surveys, Mr. Westman has typically found board members are most dissatisfied with the orientation they receive as new directors, as well as their continuing development as a board member. Westman & Associates has developed a comprehensive set of orientation and continuing development materials that an association can tailor to its use. In addition, Mr. Westman is available by webinar or in-person to deliver presentations to your board addressing a wide variety of governance-related topics – helping them to better undertake their fiduciary duties.
Governance Leaders Performance Assessment
Building on an overall governance structure and operations review, this review focuses more specifically on how individual officers, board members, committee chairs, etc. are performing in their roles – incorporating self-assessment, perhaps peer feedback, and consulting team observations. This typically results in the identification of strengths, improvement opportunities, and specific training and development activities to enhance effectiveness.
Governance Decision-Making Model Development
The “governance versus operations” debate arises periodically, if not continually, in most organizations. The right course of action differs from organization to organization and may change over time within the same organization. The Westman & Associates Consulting approach is not to impose a governance model. Rather, we raise the relevant governance and operations issues and topics utilizing a structured approach. We then help clients arrive at their own conclusions as pertains to each topic and document the results for their ongoing use. Such a model can serve to improve board/staff relations and position all stakeholders to best serve the organization.
Risk Management Model Development
Risk management and mitigation is becoming a hotter topic all the time, as we’ve seen during recent hotly-contested political races, with cyber security breaches occurring on a regular basis. Risk management is no longer just about having an annual audit and up-to-date insurance policies. Many association board members and senior staff assume risks are under control – relying excessively on the Finance Committee or external auditor to assure all is well, as opposed to digging a little deeper. As a result, it’s rare to find a given board member or staff leader who can list out more than a few possible risks faced by their organization, whereas a thorough review of an association’s operating environment can easily result in identification of 30, 40, or more risk factors. Even when risks are identified, many associations don’t take time to prioritize the ones requiring active management and abatement initiatives. Westman & Associates, using its proprietary risk assessment model and process, can help a board identify and prioritize risks, as well as develop risk abatement strategies to mitigate the most concerning risks faced by the organization.
New CEO Onboarding
The relationship between a board and its CEO is critical to the success of any organization. In the non-profit world, new CEOs frequently have no prior experience running a similar organization (e.g., an association). Even if they have served previously in such a capacity, they lack “day 1” familiarity with the board and its leaders as pertains to role definition, responsibility for making various decisions, expectations for CEO/board communications, CEO performance management, protocols for interacting with key vendors, coalition partners, governmental entities, etc. Westman & Associates Consulting has designed a structured, comprehensive, facilitated approach to assuring key CEO/board relationship issues are addressed upfront – setting the stage for a healthy and productive long-term working relationship.
CEO Performance Management Plan Design
The board is responsible for managing the performance of its CEO. We assist boards in developing a balanced scorecard approach to performance planning, including the establishment of performance metrics and objectives, as well as performance competencies that should apply to the CEO. We also can help design the process utilized to assess performance and the specific form(s) that will be completed.
CEO Compensation Program Design
Building on the design of the CEO performance management plan, we can help clients enhance ties between the performance management process and CEO compensation package. This includes identifying an appropriate compensation strategy relative to the portion of compensation that should be at risk and subsequently design specific base salary, incentive compensation, and executive benefit plans.
Intermediate Sanctions Compliance
There is a wealth of generic survey data available from other sources pertaining to board officer and CEO compensation. Westman & Associates Consulting develops highly customized compensation analyses that rely exclusively on Form 990 data. We work with clients to select appropriate peer organizations to benchmark, and then utilize a proprietary reporting mechanism to age Form 990 data to a common date and report results.
Strategic Plan Framework Development and Retreats
All boards should play an active role in the strategic planning process. Westman & Associates Consulting assists organizations in defining the process that is used, including appropriate roles for the board and staff as pertains to environmental scanning, plan development, implementation, and reporting. We also can assist organizations with implementing tools to:
- Assess which current products, programs, and services offered by an organization should be grown, divested, or addressed in other ways.
- Assess which ideas for new products, programs, and services should be further developed.
- Analyze staff time resource requirements associated with implementing strategic and operating plans.
- Document plan results for future reference.
Ongoing Strategic Plan Implementation and Administration Services
Too many organizations allow their strategic plans to sit on the shelf after they have been adopted. Westman & Associates Consulting assists clients with implementing tools to:
- Track and communicate progress on plan implementation to the board and staff.
- Add or delete initiatives from the strategic plan.
- Tie plan implementation performance to the organization’s employee compensation program.
General Meeting Facilitation
Our consultants can provide expert facilitation for any and all situations involving a need for group brainstorming, prioritizing of ideas, and developing action plans.
Organization-Wide and Functional Reviews
Any organization can periodically use the independent perspective of outsiders to ask tough questions. Why are you organized this way? Why do you do “x process” this way? Why don’t you offer “y product or service” like other top-performing organizations do? Westman & Associates Consulting can provide the independent perspective, experience, and knowledge that come from working in other environments to assess an entire organization or specific functional areas. We identify client strengths, improvement opportunities, specific recommendations for change, and implementation plans.
Benchmarking Process Administration
Benchmarking is not as easy as it sounds. It should follow a structured approach that is in line with the Benchmarking Code of Conduct. Westman & Associates Consulting works with clients to identify common and best practices by:
- Selecting the “right” issues, items, and processes to benchmark.
- Helping clients choose appropriate benchmarking partners – not necessarily organizations within the client’s industry
- Assuring that appropriate benchmarking methodology is used.
- Accumulating, analyzing, and reporting data.
- Helping clients apply acquired learning to improve performance.
Compensation Strategy, Program Development, and Market Pricing
Employees are traditionally recognized as a non-profit organization’s most important asset, and yet represent the largest expense category in the budget. It’s imperative that organizations define and abide by a fleshed-out compensation strategy that:
- Defines goals for your compensation program.
- Identifies the relevant competitive market for each position (i.e., industry, size, and location of comparable positions).
- Guides positioning of compensation — below, at, or above the competitive market.
- Articulates key compensation administration principles and guidelines.
Westman & Associates Consulting works with your board and staff leaders to address each of these strategic issues — resulting in a documented strategy for your ongoing use.
Association EasyComp (AEC)
AEC is Westman & Associates Consulting’s proprietary Excel-based tool to facilitate the development of comprehensive compensation analyses for over 70 common staff positions in associations and other non-profits. The tool can incorporate compensation data from up to five compensation surveys.
In addition to competitive market rates for each position, AEC provides recommendations for position-specific salary ranges and guidance for the placement of incumbents within their range based on tenure and performance. Available on an annual subscription basis, the tool can save HR professionals and other staff significant time in assuring their staff salaries are aligned with the competitive market and assuring the overall salary administration plan incorporates best practices.
Executive and Key Professional Search – teaming with The Overture Group (TOG)
Westman & Associates Consulting has partnered with TOG to offer search services to non-profit organizations, based on Mr. Westman’s long-term business relationship with its founders and the reputation they have with clients served. TOG focuses on meeting the needs of mid-size organizations, including non-profit entities, with a strong track record of filling executive, accounting/finance, human resources, technology, and operations positions. TOG goes above and beyond its competitors in offering value-added services that help assure the “right” candidates are identified to meet your needs and that the selected individual is positioned for success. As TOG’s Association Practice Leader, Mr. Westman serves as your business relationship manager – assuring your satisfaction with both the process used and the ultimate results. He also provides input in the identification and vetting of candidates for your consideration.
Every organization should have a well-defined succession plan that can be activated upon the unexpected departure of key staff executives due to death, disability, better career opportunities, etc. Beyond preparing for such unexpected events, a sound succession plan can help an organization assure that it is developing an adequate pool of future leaders to support attainment of its vision and strategic plan. Westman & Associates Consulting and its affiliates work hand-in-hand with your staff to identify internal candidates for key positions and develop action plans to prepare them to assume new, expanded roles in the future. We also identify contingency plans to fill positions using external resources in the event of an unexpected departure of a key staff member.
Leadership Training and Development
Board and other member leaders, as well as staff leaders, can benefit from continuing education on a broad range of leadership topics. Westman & Associates Consulting, in partnership with affiliate consultants from the Brusa Group and Monar Consulting, can offer a wide range of pre-developed, partially customized, or completely customized programs to choose from. They also have the experience and expertise to deliver such programs effectively.
Assessments—Individual, Team, and Organization
Westman & Associates Consulting, again through its affiliations with the Brusa Group and Monar Consulting, can administer and interpret assessments utilizing a broad array of assessment tools. Through assessments, clients gain understanding and awareness of individual, team, and organizational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Mr. Westman in all instances serves as your business relationship manager – assuring your satisfaction with both the process used and the ultimate results.
Executive and Team Retreats
Many CEOs find it very helpful to schedule annual off-site retreats with their senior staff to discuss critical strategic and operational issues. This can also present an excellent opportunity for these leaders to develop a better understanding of their working and communication styles – leading to better teamwork back in the office. Westman & Associates Consulting and its affiliates have experience facilitating such retreats, as well as retreats targeting the staff within a specific functional area.
Performance Management System Design
Employees at all levels typically want to know what is expected of them. They likewise want feedback on their job performance and appropriate recognition for a job well-done. Westman & Associates Consulting believes “performance management” has many components that need to work together within an overall system. This includes giving appropriate attention to the design and implementation of:
- Department and/or individual performance metrics and objectives.
- On-going coaching and, in some instances, multi-rater feedback.
- A multi-faceted performance assessment plan that considers attainment of metrics, objectives, competencies, and job-specific accountabilities.
- Career planning process.
- Performance-based reward and recognition programs.
Westman & Associates Consulting assists clients in identifying and addressing plan design issues and can offer a variety of templates and other tools for implementing and administering a performance management system.
Low/No Cost Employee Reward and Recognition Plan Design
Broadly defined, “compensation” is anything that is valued by an employee. Ironically, the compensation components most valued by employees are frequently inexpensive for the organization to offer and administer (e.g., flex schedules, telecommuting, and verbal recognition). Westman & Associates Consulting has accumulated an extensive list of reward and recognition plans used in various organizations. We work with clients to help them select which plans make the most sense for their environment, and provide guidance in tailoring policies and procedures associated with ongoing plan administration.
Employee Engagement and Satisfaction Surveys
Such surveys should be undertaken periodically to identify issues and concerns that employees have before they become big problems. We assist clients by utilizing both a survey instrument and follow-up employee focus groups. We then work with clients to analyze data, draw conclusions, and develop recommendations to address areas of concern.
All CEOs and other C-suite executives, no matter how much education and experience they have in their roles, on occasion need a sounding board – a coach to help them think through difficult strategic and operational challenges and, if needed, frankly confront them if they appear to be going down the wrong path. Westman & Associates Consulting and its affiliates can offer you and/or your colleagues either project or retainer based coaching services in this regard.
Many organizations periodically experience an unexpected change in staff leadership due to resignation, retirement, or other reasons. Through an affiliation with Transition Management Consulting, David Westman is available to serve in an Interim CEO capacity when the need arises, while your board undertakes the search for a new leader.