August 18, 2014

Next Committee Meeting is Scheduled for...

The email comes; "next committee meeting." How do you feel? Are you looking forward to the "next committee meeting" or are you just trying to remember what excuse you used last time to skip it? How you answer is more a reflection on the committee chairman and those on the committee than on you, providing you are one who invests their time for positive results.                                                                    Being on a committee means taking time away from your "day job" you know, the one that your boss hired you to do? Or maybe you're the boss; closing up shop for a meeting is still closing up shop. If you are taking yourself out of the sales game for a two hour committee meeting there are a few things you should expect/demand from your committee chair (and if you are the chair, take notes);

  1. "Time is money" - Meeting starts at 3 PM? Start it at 3 PM. I get a kick out of the chair who is being conscientious for those who can't arrive 5 minutes before start time or even on time. You know the ones; 15 minutes late, make a big scene as they enter, talk as they are sitting down oblivious to the fact that there is a meeting in progress. Time truly is money as the punctual are delayed from returning to sales by the inconsiderate. Yes, there are exceptions to excuse being late but I'm writing about those who make it a constant. Make sure that the chair is letting everyone know that being late is no longer an option. Explain that it is not fair to those who are on time. And, yes, it's OK to fire a committee member if they keep up the selfishness.
  2. "Having a timed agenda" - Conversation happens, and some conversation happens longer than others. Let's make sure that your agenda has timed agenda items designed to move the meeting along. Obviously there will be times when a conversation is constructive and the flow of the talk shouldn't be stopped. However, if other items on the agenda need to be addressed as well It is perfectly acceptable to continue the conversation under old business or ask to extend the committee meeting if you believe time will run out. Just make sure discussions are discussions and not speeches.
  3. "Same old, same old" - agendas that cover the same topics over and over again either mean that a) the committee chairman is unimaginative or b) the committee really isn't necessary. I need to be on a committee that delivers growth, personal or business. I have zero patience for meetings that talk about the same things, ad nauseam. The committee must be a benefit to the association as well as to the committee member. If you can't trace any committee initiative back to a success it's a safe bet that the committee has run its course OR the chairman was a poor choice to lead. 
  4. "Excuse me, one conversation at a time" - People, please, be respectful. Private conversations are distracting and add nothing to the meeting. If you have something to say or add, raise your hand and be recognized. Talking when others are talking is just a very rude act and should be treated as such and dealt with, quickly. Asking the entire committee to be respectful should be every chairman's goal.
  5. "Sorry, I've missed a few meetings, but..." - You know exactly who I am writing about, the member who misses three or four meetings and now wants to use the committee time to be brought up to speed. Do not allow it. Minutes from last or past meetings are minutes for a reason. Send them out before upcoming meeting. Make sure all recipients know if they have questions or concerns to bring them to you before meeting. Sometimes you will have to agree to bring up a past subject if it's for the good of the committee or a particular initiative.
It's probably a safe bet that you have more to add, and comments are welcome. I focused on the above for a reason; it's time to stop rudderless committee meetings and place the emphasis on value. Value for the association and value for the committee member. 

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP

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