7 Ways to Solicit Candid Feedback From Your Board Members

04/27/2016 10:14 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Your board members may be there to offer you guidance, but getting their candid feedback isn't always easy. Here's how to get the most from their expertise.

A. Get Them Involved

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The best value you can achieve from your board is their knowledge and experience in leading a company. Keeping the board involved and taking their advice and feedback into actions and milestones will really keep them engaged. In return, they will support you as a leader and spend more time along your side as they see these actions validated. - Shalyn Dever, Chatter Buzz

A. Ask for Candidness

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While it sounds easy, it is the most effective way to get the best insight. Tell them what you want specifically in terms of candid feedback and the type of information and advice that can drive improvements. Having this candid and open relationship with your board will produce a win for everyone involved. - Cynthia Johnson, American Addiction Centers

A. Create an Open Culture

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If you want to get real insight you are seeking, even if it may not always be something you want to hear, then you have to create a culture of openness where speaking candidly is encouraged. Board members then know that they can speak their mind and offer the advice you want to improve the organization and your own leadership skills. - Angela Ruth, eCash

A. Approach Members Individually

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Authentic feedback is often easier to come by when you separate people from groupthink. Start with a board member who has served as a personal mentor in the past. Take them out to lunch and explain exactly the type of feedback that you're looking for. Assure them that the honesty can only help you and thecompany's operations, and accept insights graciously. - Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

A. Send Topics Ahead of Time

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Board members are often busy. I find that it's helpful to send important topics ahead of time and assign a member to own the topic at the previous meeting. Sometimes, we assign a steering committee of two-to-three people to work on it. Each board member knows that we will address the topic in the next meeting, so they are always prepared. - Tamara Nall, The Leading Niche

A. Be Honest With Them

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Don't be afraid to share with the board what is really happening in the company -- things that are worrying you or may be of concern in the future. Avoiding giving them just a rosy picture as it's harder to gain insight if they only hear about the positives. The best way to get real value is to be honest, so they can give you proper feedback. Focus on the real problems and don't cover them up. - Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile Swim School

A. Play to Their Strengths

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It's important to understand each board member's strengths, weaknesses and areas of expertise. Once you know how these three qualities play out together, you can focus your attention and target your questions towards their strengths to get real value and insight from each board member. - Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.