Tips, Videos, Handouts

Committees

Good Group Tips

In principle, not every task is best suited to the full group and not every topic is interesting to every group member. When groups establish committees — sub-groups of people focused on specific activities — it brings focused attention to issues, draws on the enthusiasm of those most interested, and frees the full group for higher level business.

Committee members often volunteer for service although they may be formally appointed by the full group, chair, or boss. Standing committees have ongoing, often annual, responsibilities such as an organization’s finance committee or program committee. Ad hoc committees are established for specific purposes and go out of business once the purpose is achieved. Ad hoc committees are often asked to research something and make recommendations.

Committees work best with written mandates and willing participants.

Practical Tip: When tasking a sub-group to do something, write a mandate. What are you asking the committee to do? What is within the scope of work and what is out of bounds? When do you expect to hear from the committee? Don’t shy from drafting a committee mandate on the spot in a group meeting for all to see, revise, and finalize.

In high functioning groups, committee membership and leadership is a thoughtful and controlled activity. Publicly calling for volunteer leadership or appointing a person to a committee who is out of the room rarely works well. Be thoughtful and strategic about identifying committee chairs and members; people who understand and believe in the mandate.

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Consensus at the core

Good Group Tips

In principle, when there is a core consensus — things that everyone in an organization understands and agrees to — we are more apt to let committees and individuals throughout the organization make decisions by means other than consensus. Managers and workers are trusted to make swift individual and small group decisions on a day-to-day basis because they understand and believe in the organization’s core mission and values. When we know we agree on the basics, we trust each other on the details.

Practical tip: Know and shape the core consensus of your group. Make sure you understand your group’s mission and values and work to improve them. When staff and committees hold the same values as you, trust their findings and recommendations. Trust individuals and teams throughout the organization to make decisions on your behalf.

– Craig Freshley

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Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Loose in the harness

Good Group Tips

In principle, they say a horse runs best when loose in the harness. It helps if someone has the reins. It helps to have a good communication link between the driver and the horse, a way to send messages. It helps that the horse has boundaries, not unbridled freedom. Yet within the harness the horse runs free.

Groups work best when loose within structure. A group’s harness is made of ground rules, the agenda, and maybe a facilitator, chair, or coach.

Practical Tip: As the group leader or facilitator, be firm about the decision making or meeting structure. Send clear messages to guide behavior. Yet within the discipline that you establish, encourage your team to go wild. Give your group some slack. Giddy-up.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.