5 Ways to Get More Out of your Committees


Are you an active participant on a committee or are you waiting to be spoon fed? IE are you contributing to the goal or just creating more work for the person who was assigned to hold the spoon?

George, Sally, Henry, Heather, and Mike are all on an employee recognition committee.  Heather works in HR and is the lead person on the committee. Heather inherited this role from her previous supervisor after she retired 6 months ago. The committee has met two times and discussed essentially the same topics, not much happens between meetings and George, Sally, Henry and Mike wait for Heather to give them direction; receiving none, they do nothing aside from come to the meetings. Sometimes.

Any of that sound familiar? Maybe the committee(s) you’re on are not that bad. Are the ones that you are on good; are they achieving the goals set for the committee?

Does Sally do all the talking? Does Heather do all the work between meetings? Does George from Accounting even show up to the meetings? Does Mike fall asleep? It happens.

If any of these things are happening keep reading. Committees can be a lot of work for little reward, but if a committee is run effectively and work is spread across a group of appropriate people who are engaged they can be minimal work for great reward.

Here are 5 things that can be done to promote an effective and successful committee:

  1. Establish a routine schedule. Set the schedule including day of the week, time, duration, and frequency. Get feedback from the group before making changes to the routing schedule. Soliciting information on even the most seemingly trivial things can help increase engagement. If possible, set the date for the next meeting at the end of the current meeting.
  2. Clear purpose and goal(s). This is one of the best opportunities to work on committee member engagement. Work these out as a group, review them on a regular basis as a group, and publish them. The group should have at least one measurable goal. This will help them know when they are on track and excite them when they are near reaching the goal(s). Check lists can be used when hard numbers are not easy to come by.
  3. Define roles. Each person on the committee should know their role and this should be discussed as soon as you take over as lead or when the committee first sets out. As the lead, Heather will explain that she will send the agendas and reminders and relay information back to leadership. George was asked to serve on the committee because he works with the budget and can speak to fiscal can’s and can not’s, Sally is new employee and is asked to discuss topics from her perspective just as Henry is a long standing employee and is asked for his point of view. Mike has built an engagement program with another company and will give his expert advice. Knowing their role allows them to have clear expectations about what each of them will contribute and they will have an easier time assigning between meeting tasks.
  4. Effective agenda usage. This is all about engagement. People are busy and usually don’t think about a meeting until that 15 minute reminder pops up. Heather is setting herself a 1 week reminder so that she will get an agenda out at least a day before the meeting. This reminds the group of the upcoming meeting and allows them to contribute. After the meeting, Heather or a designated note taker (position can be rotated), will send out a summary of the meeting including between meeting assigned tasks and their deadlines.
  5. Reward system. There should be some level of peer to peer recognition, thank you’s from Heather for work between meetings, etc. but there should also be a system within the organization that recognized teams for their efforts. If Heather receives all the “attaboys” the rest of the team is likely to lose some enthusiasm for their next team assignment.

Now, when George, Sally, Henry, Heather, and Mike have a meeting they all show up on time, they are all prepared to contribute and since they are receiving such great commendation for achieving their goals they are excited to be a part of the team and ready to tackle the next project. As a bonus, Mike saves his naps for long staff meetings.

There are numerous ways to improve participation, engagement, efficiency, and results from committee activity. What is one thing that you’ve found to be a key to committee success?

Laura Thorne is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply