Eight Ways to Prevent Committee Chaos

Posted on Tuesday March 10, 2015

Community committees are a great way to involve more residents in the activities of their homeowner association, help ensure the rules and regulations of the association are followed, and help lighten the workload of volunteer board members. Some common committees include beautification, architectural, landscaping and grievance committee. At their best, committees are finely tuned engines for getting things done in your community. When there is a breakdown or discord, they’re agents of confusion, wreaking havoc on progress and operating as the figurative wrecking balls for a few overbearing committee members.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent committees from turning to the dark side.

Here’s a look at eight ways you can make sure committees keep making positive contributions.

1. Categorize your committees.

Committees can often get off track when their members don’t know the limits of their authority. You can clarify that by categorizing your committees. Administrative committees are designated in the community association’s documents, and are often permanent and ongoing, with have clearly defined powers. Standing advisory committees are put in place by the board or its president for an ongoing specific purpose – they are advisory in nature and act under the board’s supervision. The third type, ad hoc advisory committees, are temporary and created by the board for the recommendation and execution of a specific task.

2. Limit committee terms.

Many times, the reason for committee dysfunction is a committee member with an ax to grind, or one who brings an agenda that is counter to the good of the community. To avoid the pitfall of the influence of a potentially damaging individual, limit committee terms to a single year, and make the appointments at the discretion of board members or president, as defined by the community association’s documents.

3. Keep the board involved.

Some associations have managed committee chaos by allowing the board president to appoint board members to committees. Be sure to check your community documents to make sure this is permitted. And remember that it’s not wise to have more than three board members appointed at a time.

4. Make them accountable.

Make your committees answerable to the board – in writing by use of committee meeting minutes. By mandating that board members be kept apprised of all activities, you have a record of their progress and can keep an eye out for any decisions that take the committee off track.

5. Attract new participants.

Sometimes it takes new personalities to reinvigorate a committee. That makes recruiting new members essential. To do so, try approaching new residents with the opportunity to serve. Be on the lookout for inquiries that indicate a resident might be enthusiastic or passionate about their association. And don’t be shy about seeking committee members by posting notices or making announcements at meetings.

6. Be grateful – publicly.

When residents see board members acknowledging the hard work of committee members – and acting on their suggestions – it empowers new volunteers to join. Doing something as simple as thanking a committee in public can be a very powerful recruitment and retention tool for new members.

7. Be clear about duties.

Give every committee a crystal clear mandate, and make sure they aren’t confused by conflicting requests. Make sure they are committed to completing tasks according to a strict timeline, and be sure you get regular progress reports on their activity and progress.

8. Revisit committees often.

Don’t be complacent about how your committees are formed. Take a look at your policies and committee structures at least once a year. You’ll find that keeping things fresh has a way of keeping your committees on the right track.

Navigating committees can be tricky, so It’s always smart to get the advice and assistance of a good property management company. For more insight, contact FirstService Residential.

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