Action Oriented Committees
Committees can be a powerful tool for generating and sustaining the momentum of a project. With the right members and the right focus, a committee meeting can be a place to generate new ideas, to discuss serious issues, to evaluate actions, to build relationships, and to track progress. Like a human brain, a committee can be the generating force behind the life of a project.
However, if not managed correctly, committees can become obstacles. Most people in both corporate and non-profit environments have, at one point or another, experienced a poorly run committee, and can attest to how stagnating such a committee can be. How then can we leverage the generative power of the committee and avoid its potential pitfalls?
Here are some suggestions for creating and sustaining an action-oriented committee:
- Clearly define the purpose of the committee. What do you want the committee to accomplish?
- Select committee members carefully. Choose members based on the skills they can provide to the project and on their ability to collaborate and discuss issues and ideas. Always explain to committee members what you hope they can offer and what you expect (include commitment, skills, money, contacts, etc.).
- Encourage committee members to get to know each other. By bonding, committee members will be more committed to each other and to the project.
- Define the goals and values of the committee as a group and routinely revisit the goals and values to keep them fresh.
- Schedule meetings well in advance and post your agenda and associated documents to your MyCommittee space so members can prepare for the meeting.
- Always begin and end your committee meetings on time.
- Solicit feedback from all members on key issues and decisions.
- Ask questions. Ideas are often developed and solidified through exploration. As well, asking for clarification can mean a poorly-expressed, good idea isn't lost.
- Provide feedback and acknowledgment when a committee member brings forward an idea.
- Try to build consensus. Building consensus may seem like it takes a lot of time, but you will likely lose less time building consensus than you would revisiting decisions repeatedly or motivating people to take action on decisions with which they don't agree. If you can't build consensus, look for other ways that can motivate action on the decision.
- Hold a counted vote on significant decisions and record how members voted in the minutes. Holding a counted vote and recording the results will help prevent committee members from revisiting the decision if there is ever a question about who supported the decision.
- Don't be afraid of conflict. Conflict can generate new ideas and new perspectives.
- Keep action items task oriented and distribute the tasks as evenly as possible.
- Have committee members approve the minutes to confirm that everyone agrees that discussion summaries, decisions, and action items are recorded correctly.
- Follow up with members after a meeting. Don't wait until the next meeting to check on the status of action items.