By Deanna Tharpe, DSAIA Executive Director
This is my “committee week.” Or at least, that is what I call it. As an ED I really only chair one committee; however I try to attend all committee meetings when I can. And it just so happens that normally all of the DSAIA committees meet during the second week of the month. So I’ve affectionately named it so.
To be honest, I have not always been a fan of committees. Sometimes, committees can be utterly fantastic. They develop a good plan, they recruit productive members, and they execute their plan with amazing results. And then….there are the other kind. We’ve all been on THOSE committees. They are the ones where the ED or Board President finally steps in and says “Never mind – I’ll do it.” The neat thing about DSAIA committees – they’re all made up of leaders! It’s awesome! So, I can see where some of our members might have lost faith in the role committees play in their organization.
I read this great article today (compliments of Wild Apricot) from Patricia Hudson of the Melos Institute, where she suggests that it’s not the structure that’s lacking, but the need for “establishing some basic principles and practices for committee effectiveness.” So, the 'too busy to prepare for meetings', 'too busy to pay attention at meetings', and 'too busy to follow-up afterwards' excuses that would otherwise make us think that committees are a waste of time may not be valid notions at all.
Hudson says the key is to understand a few basic principles:
competent committee management and productive meeting management (yes, they are different).
a recognition that associations are a talent pool; that everyone involved in the process has a desire and the potential to succeed but often lacks the skills or experience necessary to do so.
attitudes and an organizational culture that believes in empowering those involved to become adept in their role.
Good meeting management can dispel your belief that members are no longer interested in being a part of a committee. Hudson says that their frequent complaint is that “meetings too often deal with superficial issues, lacking any real opportunity to make a difference.”
So, if you are not creating opportunities for members to become actively engaged (through committees), then you are losing out on the power to tap into that vast talent pool full of connections into a professional network that could benefit your organization.
You can read the entire Melos Institute article (PDF) here.
Do you have good, action-oriented, productive committees in your organization? Are you looking for more help to perform effective committee management? Comment! We want to hear from you. And if you are interested in being involved in one of those terrific DSAIA committees, contact me! (I've got connections and I can set you up...)
(Special thanks to Wild Apricot for their wonderful blog posts who never fails to point us in the right direction!)