Six Ways to Maximize Committees
Community members join committees because they want to make a difference. That’s great, but sometimes, as they say, life gets in the way. Let’s not forget that committee members are all volunteers, which means it might take something a little extra to keep them motivated.
The good news is that there are plenty of strategies you can implement to get more out of your committees. The best community association management company can help you with more ideas, but this should be a good place to start.
Maximize your committees by:
- Running effective meetings.
Nothing sucks the wind out of the sails of a successful effort like an amateurish meeting. For committee members to feel like they can be effective, they must know that they’re part of a well-run organization. That means setting – and sticking to – an agenda, minimizing socializing during the meeting, using time limits and adhering to a schedule.
- Ensuring everyone feels valued.
When individuals feel appreciated, they’re more likely to put forth the extra effort that membership in a committee requires. Set them up for success by seating everyone in an oval or a circle, so that attendees are face to face and there’s no perceived hierarchy. Encourage active listening and practice empathy. Make your meeting a safe place to express ideas and suggestions through brainstorming (this can also be accomplished with something called “go arounds”, where each member says exactly what he or she is thinking).
- Making it formal.
No, we’re not talking about showing up in a tuxedo. We’re talking about formalizing the objectives of your committees, their responsibilities, their goals and the job descriptions of each committee member. If everyone has a clear idea of their role in the committee – and the objective of the committee as a whole – then it significantly enhances effectiveness.
- Giving them the tools they need.
If a committee understands its scope and authority, it will be able to achieve its mandate. But that’s a lot more difficult when they lack the resources to accomplish what’s ahead. Give them records, documents, reports, equipment and supplies right from the beginning. If they need a refresher on the association’s rules and policies, that’s a good place to start. Most of all, remember that your committee will need clear direction every step of the way.
- Relieving stress – and resolving conflict.
Any group of people gives rise to the potential for conflict. That’s not a problem – complications arise when it’s not dealt with effectively. Create a committee culture that encourages collaboration, not competition. During meetings, keep it light, be tolerant of others and schedule regular breaks. Keep attendees hydrated and provide snacks. Most of all, avoid defeatist thinking.
- Saying thank you.
For many committee members, a job well done and an objective accomplished will be enough of a reward in and of itself. But remember that a little extra gratitude goes a long way, and it will mean a lot coming from a board member. After all, you’ve been there providing a vision, helping them out, and inspiring them to find creative solutions. When the process culminates with a timely and sincere “thank you” from you, it not only makes the volunteer feel appreciated, but it will also motivate them to choose to serve again. And since good volunteers can be hard to find, that’s definitely the kind of outcome you’re looking for.