Standard A4 Explained

Why is a written job description important? The board of directors is responsible for monitoring the performance of the organization’s most senior staff person in order to ensure that the organization is functioning effectively. 1 A formal job description lists all the activities and competencies required for the most senior staff person’s position and creates a structure with which to assess individual performance. 2 Written job descriptions also provide a sense of professionalism when recruiting a new ED / CEO.

Job descriptions usually include: 2

  • A list of the position’s duties, tasks, and responsibilities
  • A description of how the position advances the organization’s goals
  • A list of required experience and competencies
  • Any special requirements (for instance, a police check)
  • A list of key relationships to the organization’s stakeholders

Why are annual performance objectives important? Level 2 and 3 organizations must develop annual performance objectives for their most senior staff person and conduct an annual performance review. Annual performance objectives should assess progress toward the nonprofit or charitable organization’s strategic plan 2 and measure success against annual work plans and the most senior staff person’s job description. 3

Benefits of regular performance reviews of the Executive Director or most senior staff person include: 4

  • Increased understanding among board members of the role of the Executive Director and of day-to-day operations
  • Increased understanding of progress toward the organization’s mission
  • Ability to respond more effectively to shifts in the external environment including changes to funding and community needs
  • Enhanced communication between board members and the Executive Director
  • Ability to proactively address emerging challenges
  • Enhanced performance of the Executive Director

From "Accreditation Preparation Workbook Section A: Board Governance,"  Katharine Zywert, Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo at the University of Waterloo, 2013.

  1. Primer for Directors of Not-for-Profit Corporations: Rights, Duties, and Practices.” Industry Canada, 2002
  2. HR Management Standards: Second Edition,” HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector, 2011
  3. Performance Management for Executive Directors,” in HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector’s HR Toolkit. 
  4. Hiring and Performance Appraisal of the Executive Director,” The Muttart Foundation and Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, 2008



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