President’s Message: SOCAN’s rigorous review of its board of directors

Board_CST Published 04/28/2014

By Stan Meissner

Former New York mayor, the late Ed Koch, used to ask every New Yorker on the street, “How am I doing?”  In our heart of hearts, most of us probably feel like we’re doing pretty well when we’re trying our best, but those around us may have a different perspective. With this in mind, and in the spirit of striving to work within “best practices” in corporate culture, as well as a degree of self-improvement, and ultimately creating a more effective organization, SOCAN has a rigorous review and evaluation process, not only for staff members by their managers, but for the directors of the board and the CEO.

The SOCAN board, along with Peter Stephenson of Meridien Consulting, perform annual evaluations to assess the effectiveness of the board of directors as a whole.  Each board member anonymously completes a specifically designed questionnaire, and upon a compilation of the results, the Executive Governance Committee (EGC), and then the entire board, review these results with an eye towards making improvements wherever they may be indicated.

Further, in the last few years, the board has also undergone peer assessment reviews, where board and committee members that work alongside each other have the ability to anonymously rate and make comments about their colleagues’ performance on the board. In the past, these results were only seen by that director, however, for this year, in order to give the exercise a bit more “teeth,” the individual results are also shared with the president of the board. This way, the president and the individual director can discuss either a job well done or any areas for improvement, to the ultimate end of personal growth and the ability to become a better and more effective director, with the end result of creating a better and more cohesive board.

Another role of the board of directors is to evaluate the role of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  In fact, within our governance structure, the CEO is the only employee that reports directly to the board, while all other employees report to the CEO or their departmental managers.  The board, along with Peter Stephenson and Vice President of Human Resources Randy Wark, design a series of questions and areas for open-ended comment regarding the annual performance of the CEO, who like all SOCAN employees must achieve certain targets within the year that affect salary and bonuses.

Again, in keeping with best practices, new for this year, we have adopted a 360-degree approach to this evaluation process, by including assessment and evaluations from the executives that report to the CEO, in addition to the board members.  This allows for a more holistic view of the CEO’s performance and helps give the board greater insight into the CEO’s effectiveness.

Ultimately, the SOCAN board, staff and management continue to strive to make SOCAN the world’s leading performing rights organization, and these are the kinds of things we’re doing to find out how we’re doing in achieving that goal.

About Stan Meissner

Stan Meissner, SOCAN president, is a songwriter and composer who has earned a living for the last 35 years creating music that's been heard extensively on radio and television, in Canada, the U.S., Europe and beyond. In his diverse career, Stan has written songs that have been recorded by artists ranging from Céline Dion to '80s metal queen Lee Aaron.  He's composed music for TV and film, from the children`s program Berenstain Bears to the Friday the 13th horror movie franchise, and is one of the more than 100,000 members of SOCAN who operates effectively as a small business in Canada. As President of the SOCAN Board of Directors; the board Chairman of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame; SOCAN Treasurer (2003-2012); President of the SOCAN Foundation (2006-2012); and President of the Songwriters Association of Canada (2000-2006), Stan has been very active in the songwriting community, working as a tireless advocate to further a more positive environment for music creators in Canada and around the world.

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