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7 Principles to Ensure Your Workplace Committee Is On Track

Workplace committees can be one of the most effective preventive mechanism that an organisation can use towards goal achievement. Every company has some or the other committee – for handling grievance, for employee engagement, for fun and games, for employee run initiatives, for POSH, and sometimes for pitches. Often, employee-led committees work to improve morale, increase productivity, provide ongoing educational opportunities and a means to give back to our local communities as well.

However, as efficient a committee can be, workplace committees also suffer a bad reputation as they can very easily turn into a frivolity. It is also incredibly time consuming, can be resource heavy, as nobody is really paid to contribute their time and effort to these committees. And, if it is mismanaged it can actually be a waste of time & valuable resources without accomplishing much.

Having said that, committees can be an asset if they facilitate debates on important issues and can be an equitable collective forum for decision making. They are essential in organisations to keep a tab on necessary goals – that may not directly contribute to business, but are essential to maintain employee satisfaction, build company culture, and in the long run, build the organisation’s reputation.

So the challenge is to manage committees well; to get the most out of them while being extremely careful to cut out the dysfunctional traits in the beginning itself.

Here are a few principles to follow in order to set up effective committees:

1. Proper selection of members:

Committees can be instituted for various reasons. It is important to choose members based on expertise, experience, subject knowledge, etc. To quote an example, for current times, it makes ample sense to institute a work hygiene and safety committee. First and foremost, committee members must set a good example. They must be above average in their safe work habits and their positive attitude about hygiene and safety. They must be an effective sounding board for employees to ensure their activities are safe. This can also help them be proactive about what the need of the hour is, putting in place new rules based on the situation, setting new processes to be followed etc. The committee must also meet regularly for updates to assess what’s working and not working. Also, all the members of the committee should be accessible to the employees i.e.; employees should know who they can approach when needed.

Insight: Not you but the employees must see them as fit to be committee members

2. Compact group:

Workplaces consist of employees with varied positions and backgrounds. Well-run committees can be especially effective when members can be inclusive of varied perspectives, both from inside the organisation and other industries. It is important that committees are compact – just enough representation to ensure each person is being treated with respect, everybody’s voice is heard and proceedings remain on course. Committees with many members can fail easily because this can lead to chaos and no decisions may be taken on time. In case there are many employees, it can be decided that after a certain period of time that some members can be replaced with other suitable employees from time to time to create a sense of belonging and ownership. Consider the size of your organisation and the committee when deciding the best rotation policy. It may also be noted that sometimes committees can be permanent – like to tackle sexual harassment cases in the workplace, or for employee engagement. Sometimes, they can be temporary and situation based like in case of a crisis.

Insight: Appoint in even numbers so that the committee reaches a consensus and not majority

3. Well-defined roles:

Good managers direct employees of the team and get them to understand their priorities. They will make decisions and be accountable for those decisions when no one else can be. In the case of workplace committees as well members have to be given well defined roles to ensure accountability. This is what will help foster a collaborative infrastructure and ensure goals are met by working together. Budgets, management opinions, or even unpredictable technological problems, among other things, can make you put your committee’s agenda on the back burner. Therefore it is all the more essential to have defined roles to ensure that the goal of the committee is met whether it is temporary or permanent.

Insight: Each member must have a distinct role over and above common responsibilities

4. Run an effective meeting:

Running purposeful and participative meetings can be challenging. Often times, discussions can run long with no conclusion in sight, decisions can be made without full information, committee attendance can be lax, members may be disinterested, participation can be lukewarm – there are endless ways to derail committee agendas. These problems are very common especially in external committees that are formed, without direct connection to business agenda. While they are not easily overcome, meetings can become more effective if they are well planned with a clear purpose, effectively chaired and focused on decision-making. Some things that can be ensured are having proper meeting agendas, setting dates well in advance to ensure attendance, ensuring reports are concise and comprehensive, making sure there are no conflicts of interest. Other details include circulating minutes from the previous meetings to make sure goals have been met.

Insight: Agree at the start of the meeting what is it that everyone will walk out with after the meet

5. Choose a dynamic and experienced leader:

Dynamic leaders constantly seek to learn, improve experience and improve their skill set. They realise leadership is not defined by the title on the door, but daily actions. A dynamic leader grows daily and learns as much as possible from every conversation, meeting, interaction and experience. Simply put, the key is to aim for positive change. For a change to be positive, it must decrease the time required, increase efficiency, improve structure or increase simplicity.

Insight: Choose not based on seniority but based on credibility and enthusiasm

6. Train committee members:

Any workplace committee has the responsibility to ensure the organisation complies with obligations. Committee members have duties to make decisions and act in the best interests of their organisation. Some basic things the committees leaders can ensure is that members make decisions that are in accordance with company rules. It is their duty to ensure information is used fairly without personal gain. It is also essential to train committee members contribute actively.

Insight: Train on the subject matter and not skills required to run a committee

7. Follow-up measures and reporting:

After a meeting, it’s important for employees to be reminded of what was discussed so they can remember significant action items or announcements. Sending meetings recap can summarise discussions and important details for attendees or employees who were unable to attend a meeting. The recap should contain information that is valuable and simple for readers to understand. If you have an excellent meeting with someone, writing a great follow-up email can help you strengthen the agenda and reach your objectives, whether you’re trying to effect a change in the organisation, or chart a path for the future. These recaps help attendees remember important details and are available for them to reference later on.

Insight: Draft and measure performance indicators, even if just 1

If you want truly effective committees, you must invest the time and energy to develop them. Workplace committees are a great cost-effective way to boost staff professional development credentials, as well as to recognise exceptional employees and foster better communication and collaboration between teams. It is a great tool to promote and grow the company culture as the agendas of committees are always in alignment to the vision of the organisation. While most committees succeed for a while, keeping the momentum of the initial enthusiasm is hard, and they can fall off the track. Following, and revisiting these simple measures can help you sustain the effectiveness of workplace committees!

At Yellow Spark, we can help you set up effective committees and train them so that they stay in alignment with the organisation’s vision. To know more write to us at contact@yellowspark.in

Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.

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7 Principles to Ensure Your Workplace Committee Is On Track
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Published on:  December 3, 2020