All things considered, most business staffers would prefer to be responsible for their own work, but staff work generally depends on the input and expertise of others to complete many projects. And the committee (or task force) is the customary way to tap into this expertise.
Of course, for staffers who are task-oriented, the mere thought of convening a committee for any project may cause consternation, if not outright resistance. However, the ability to effectively lead and manage committees is an important skill that should be developed by any business person with career aspirations.
Granted, committees are notorious for wasting valuable time dealing with egos, hidden agendas, and the posturing of members. Although some interpersonal issues can be expected, these cannot be allowed to obscure the committee’s objectives. And this largely falls on the effectiveness of the committee leader to keep things on track.
For many staffers, this can mean assuming an unaccustomed leadership role. Simply speaking, this is not an easy role for the staffer who has no functional control over committee members. And it’s even more of a challenge when some committee members may be higher in the chain-of-command than the committee leader.
Experienced staffers work through such challenges by employing a few basic Meeting Management Techniques. In this regard, consider the following ten steps for managing your next committee:
1. Once committee members have been identified, announce the committee agenda via Email or Interoffice Memo.
2. At the first meeting, outline the objectives of the committee.
3. Establish a non-threatening climate. Encourage the members to freely air their opinions and suggestions.
4. Ask for a commitment of time and work. If anyone wants out, let them out now.
5. Lead the discussions and record or chart the responses.
6. Acknowledge ALL contributions.
7. Assign tasks democratically. Employ sub-committees for some tasks, if appropriate.
8. Set specific deadlines for the above step.
9. Have the group deal with any uncooperative member.
10. Summarize and publish minutes after each meeting.
It should be remembered that a successful committee will generate data and information that will need to be compiled and packaged as a formal report or Action Plan. And while it’s usually up to the committee leader to write this report, the quality of the report should be more reflective of the committee’s input than on the leader’s report-writing talents.
As a final note, it is always a good idea to acknowledge and recognize the work of committee members in some formal way.
While monetary rewards are not always possible, consider things such as Letters of Appreciation from a Senior Manager and perhaps a luncheon for committee members. These are simple gestures for sure, but they will be appreciated as well as add some closure to the committee’s work.