30 Board Engagement Survey Questions To Ask Your Directors

KPMG refers to board engagement as “perhaps the top challenge for boards today,” stating that “devoting quality time to strategy and thinking about the future have never been more challenging or important as technology, innovation, and other forces disrupt and undermine business models and strategic assumptions with startling speed and impact.”

In order to keep directors engaged, it is important to create a corporate culture that prizes hard work and accountability. As Austrian-American business consultant Peter Drucker said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” And, to create a culture that allows the business to flourish in a positive manner, high-performing boards regularly put board engagement survey questions to their members. 

This article explains the benefits of using a board engagement survey, how to structure your survey and what to ask. 

Why use surveys to measure board engagement?

Surveying directors to measure their engagement with the processes and procedures of the board allows you to go straight to the source and find out why or why not a board member feels engaged with their work. It is the natural next step after monitoring performance and effectiveness, which indicates engagement issues, helping you find out the reasons behind their engagement levels. 

Some of the benefits of using a board engagement survey for directors include: 

Improve performanceBy understanding the reasons why directors disengage, you can find mitigation solutions and help them become more engaged, increasing effectiveness.
Increase trustRegular engagement surveys show the organisation’s commitment to improving the performance of its board, as well as to transparency and accountability
MotivationWhen directors understand that they will have regular engagement surveys, they are motivated to maintain focus on their board work because they know that they will be assessed on their engagement. In addition, the existence of the survey shows that the company is committed to understanding and attempting to overcome directors’ challenges. 
Plans for the futureThe outcomes of your engagement survey help you shape the future running of the board. Based on feedback from stakeholders, you can refine and finesse the processes and procedures in place, ultimately creating an environment in which engagement flourishes. 

The right way to ask directors survey questions

When planning your board engagement survey, consider its structure carefully to ensure it keeps the attention of your board members

  • Create a flow between topics to help cover a range of different areas of the board’s work and avoid overloading the respondents with an overwhelming number of questions. 
  • Pick questions that relate to your organisation and the way that corporate governance works within your organisation. 
  • Make sure you mix up open and closed questions, providing some variety for those answering them. And try not to fill a single topic area with just closed or just open-ended questions. Remember that your aim is to understand how your directors perceive the various aspects of board life as well as to gain deeper insight into the reasons behind these perceptions. 
  • Consider the method by which you deliver the survey. Incorporate it into your directors' regular workflow. Whether this is by email, project management tool or board portal

Questions to ask

Here are some board engagement survey questions to ask your directors next time you run a survey. Take a look through these suggestions and choose those that are most relevant to your organisation and the way your board works or should work.

Understanding board dynamics

The way your board members interact with each other can affect the engagement of some directors. For example, it could be that there is an element of groupthink. This can lead to disengagement because directors may feel there is no point contributing to the discussion as they will simply back up what has already been asserted. 

In this case, you might seek to add a wider variety of outlooks to your board. Use this section to understand more about how each member views the success or otherwise of the mix of attendees around the table. 


  • How would you describe the current dynamics of the board?
  • How satisfied are you with your current level of engagement with the board?
  • How would you assess the transparency of board operations and decisions?

Roles and responsibilities

Without a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities on a board, a director can struggle to engage fully with their work. This clarity helps them understand what is required of them and, without that, they will not be as effective as they could be. Take this opportunity to discover how directors view the roles and responsibilities of their colleagues, but especially their own duties with regard to the board. 


  • Do you feel your roles and responsibilities as a director are clearly defined?
  • Are there areas of your directorship role that you feel are unclear or need further clarity?

Communication and collaboration

One way to engage your board members is to ensure they can communicate with each other effectively and collaborate between meetings. Without this ability, they can lose motivation and connection to their colleagues. 

Ask them about this aspect of board life and, if it is lacking, consider methods to improve interactions between directors. iBabs’ board portal, for example, allows board members to collaborate on documents and other matters through the platform at any time from anywhere on their device.


  • How effective is communication among board directors?
  • How frequently would you like the board to communicate with you outside of regular meetings?
  • Are there barriers to collaboration that you've observed or experienced?

Decision-making and follow-up

Board meetings must be productive and that means making decisions and following through on them to put them into action. Directors should be aware of the issues to be discussed so they can be prepared and make the best possible decisions. 

In addition, the board must ensure that the decisions are brought to life by holding board members accountable. Without adequate procedures in place, directors can lose engagement in the process. 


  • How inclusive do you find the board's decision-making process?
  • Are board decisions typically data-driven and evidence-based?
  • Have you ever felt hesitant to voice a differing opinion during board discussions?
  • Are action items followed up and monitored? 

Training and professional development

By investing in training and professional development for board members, you show them that the board is committed to continuous improvement. Engagement works both ways and a display of commitment to your directors can encourage them to be more dedicated to their work. Find out more about how they view the training and development opportunities as they stand. 


  • Are there specific areas where you feel you need further training or development as a director?
  • How satisfied are you with the professional development opportunities offered to directors?

Board composition and diversity

Board diversity can relate both to diversity of thought, as well as demographics, and it is important that a board embraces both definitions. If everyone thinks in the same way, this can lead to biased decision-making, which reduces the opportunity for innovative problem-solving. 

If there is a balance of experiences and backgrounds, it can create a more engaging experience in the boardroom. Ask about how your directors view board diversity in your organisation and work to add new skills and viewpoints if it is felt the board is lacking in them.


  • How diverse, in terms of skills, background and perspective, do you perceive the board to be?
  • Are there specific skill sets or expertise you feel the board currently lacks?

Meeting structure and productivity

The meeting ecosystem stretches from the preparation, through the meeting itself, and to the completion of action items. It needs to be as efficient as possible to maintain engagement from your board members. If they feel unprepared, if meetings are too long or unfocused, if there is no clear process for carrying out the decisions made, directors can lose motivation. 

Find out how they view meetings in the organisation and make the necessary adjustments to make the time they spend in the board room as productive as possible.


  • How efficient are our board meetings in achieving their objectives?
  • Are there suggestions you have to improve the structure or flow of board meetings?

Engagement with stakeholders

External engagement is another important aspect of the board’s role. Directors need the tools to communicate effectively with management, employees, shareholders and customers to be able to explain what they are doing and why it is in the best interest of the organisation. Without this, there can be a loss of trust between parties. 


  • How effectively do you feel the board engages with key stakeholders?
  • Are there stakeholders you believe the board should engage with more actively?
  • How would you characterise the board's relationship with the organisation's senior management?
  • Are there areas of this relationship that you feel need strengthening or change?

Committees and subgroups

Committees are integral to the work of the board because they are tasked with gathering information, understanding complex issues and presenting their findings to the board to help directors make well-informed decisions. If the board doesn’t listen to their reports or they fail to present the details in an effective manner, it can negatively affect the decision-making process. 


  • If you're part of a committee, how effective do you find its operations?
  • Are there suggestions you have for improving the efficiency or impact of board committees?

Director onboarding

Engagement issues can arise from the very start of a director’s board life if the onboarding process does not fully prepare them for their role. You should have a comprehensive plan in place to help board members get up to speed with their responsibilities as quickly as possible. 

Find out about directors’ experiences of onboarding and their views on how the process has worked for recent new recruits, then adjust your approach accordingly to help better engage new starters. 


  • How effective was the onboarding process when you first joined the board?
  • Are there elements of the onboarding process you believe should be enhanced or added?

Time commitment 

Directors have other commitments to adhere to and the time that they can and should dedicate to board work should be clearly communicated. If they understand how much time they should set aside, it helps them focus and maintain engagement. If there is no indication of how long they will be needed, it can lead to a loss of focus. Similarly, when you demand too much of a director, this can damage their effectiveness. 


  • Do you feel the expected time commitment for board activities is clearly communicated?
  • Are there instances where you felt overwhelmed by the time demands of your director role?

Culture and morale

A happy director who resonates with the ethos of the board is bound to be better engaged than one who feels at odds with the culture of the board and is therefore disillusioned with the role. This part of the survey should tap into the culture that prevails within the board and find out whether it is conducive to optimal engagement from directors. 


  • How would you describe the culture within the board?
  • Are there specific actions the board could take to improve its morale or culture?


How often should a board engagement survey be conducted?

The frequency of board engagement surveys can vary depending on the organisation, but it is generally recommended to conduct them annually. This board assessment allows for consistent feedback and the ability to track changes and improvements over time.

Are there best practices for ensuring confidentiality in board engagement surveys?

It is crucial to ensure confidentiality to get honest and candid responses. Best practices include using an anonymous survey platform, having a third party administer the survey and communicating the confidentiality measures to all participants.

What is the difference between board engagement and board effectiveness?

Board member engagement refers to the involvement and enthusiasm of directors in their roles, while board effectiveness is about how well the board fulfils its responsibilities and achieves its objectives. Both are interrelated, with engagement often leading to increased effectiveness.

How do board engagement surveys differ from employee engagement surveys?

While both surveys aim to measure engagement levels, board of directors engagement surveys focus on the perspectives of directors regarding governance, strategic oversight and their specific roles. Employee engagement surveys, on the other hand, target the workforce's views on job satisfaction, culture and operational aspects.


These board engagement survey questions will help you understand how engaged your directors are with the work of the board. They also highlight the areas in which you can make adjustments and improvements to increase that engagement. Consider which questions are relevant to your individual situation and create a survey to elicit feedback from your directors. 

To help with better meeting preparation, improved collaboration, more efficient meeting workflows and director accountability, use iBabs’ board portal. It connects your team and allows them to interact in a secure, collaborative environment. It also monitors engagement from board members, including attendance levels and document open rates. Request a demo for your organisation today. 

References and further reading

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