Tips, Videos, Handouts

How to Form a Committee – 5 Essentials

When you form a committee or any kind of group to do a job, here are five things to keep in mind.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hey everybody! Hi, it’s Craig Freshley here. I just finished up a meeting right here in this boardroom – Penobscot River right outside that window.

A lot of times when a big group meets, they make small groups. Sometimes the small group is called the committee. Sometimes it’s a task force. Sometimes it’s a working group, but a lot of times the big group doesn’t quite get all its work done or needs some specialized help, and sometimes the big group is forming a small group with limited time, like at the last minute, like the meeting is about to end. It kind of happened like that here today.

When a big group forms a small group, keep in mind these five things:

First of all, give your small group, your committee, a name. The ‘XYZ Committee’: say it out loud, put it in the notes, so everybody knows the name of the group.

Secondly, name a lead person who is responsible for convening at least the first meeting of the group. They don’t have to be the ongoing chair, but don’t send a group of people off to do something without one of them having responsibility for bringing the group together.

Number three, name the members of the group or put in place a protocol for them to be named.

Number four, establish the committee charge. The statement of purpose. The charter, whatever you want to call it, but actually write the words that represent what you expect the committee to do. And part of that charge should be clarifying whether the committee has authority to actually make decisions and if so, what is the scope of that authority? Or is it their responsibility to gather information and share it, or is it their responsibility to provide a recommendation? Be clear about that.

Fifth thing, establish some sort of timeline. Whatever they’re supposed to do – when does the big group expect to hear back from them? Name a timeline. Now look, you might be rushed, and you might only have time at the very last minute to write down the name of the committee and establish a lead person. Then it becomes that person’s job to convene the group and make a recommendation, or do those other three or four things that you didn’t get done.

Whether at the moment the group is conceived, or in the first meeting or two of the group, every committee should have those five things universally understood, agreed upon, and written down.

That’s how you make committees. Committees are a key part of making good group decisions.

Thanks for listening everybody.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *