One of the most important duties of the nonprofit board of directors/trustees is to ensure review and evaluation of the work of the executive director/CEO. In my opinion, the first job review should take place 90 days after the hire.
A three-month review gives everyone the opportunity to evaluate the fit and to learn, early on, expectations of the ED and of the board, and, if things are clearly not working out, it gives everyone an out. The review doesn’t have to be a formal affair, but it should include some written conclusions, both from the board or board chair and from the ED.
Writing it all down ensures there’s a permanent record of the event, and also, I think, helps people to be thoughtful about the process. This recent article about gender differences in job reviews is particularly relevant in the nonprofit community, where many CEOs are women. It bears thought.
I have to say–and of course this is from the perspective of a perennial staff person–I deplore the concept of a “performance review.” The relationship is mutual, and boards have to do their jobs, just like staff members and volunteers, so the job review should always be a two-sided affair.