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Developing strong working relationships with Committees

For those of us in the association sector, either in managing conferences or in managing associations, being involved with committees is just part of our day. Our aim is to develop really strong working relationships with each committee so that our clients can best achieve their goals.

In my experience running DCC&A over the decades there has been a wide range in the levels of committee engagement, ranging from the micro-management of the smallest details to the carte blanche approach of total authority. The challenge for DCC&A is to be able to adapt to the various styles and lead the group to achieve their purpose. This is not always as easy as it sounds but the essential element for success is TRUST. Trust develops through transparency, understanding the committees’ needs, wants and time constraints and giving professional advice always in their best interests.

The management of committee meetings is a skill. There needs to be a clear agenda with the essential information for discussion and decision making circulated well in advance. It is important to start the meeting on time, even if some participants may be delayed and to move through the agenda in a timely manner so that the approximate finishing time is reached.   The chair of the meeting should be well briefed in advance in relation to any issues which may arise.  Occasionally and depending on the circumstances, the chair may request that DCC&A lead the meeting and if this is the case it is important to keep the discussion on track while allowing for essential debate.

Keeping individual committee members engaged can often be the most difficult issue, particularly for those who have been conscripted into standing for the committee and led to believe there will be little to do.  This leads to time being wasted going over past business and there should be no hesitation from the chair to ask such members to stand down, particularly if they are too busy and have missed a number of meetings. Often this is a huge relief to the already over committed volunteer.

Working with engaged committees, whose members have read the minutes and are up to date with the issues, who speak to enhance the conversation and value our time and theirs, is a beautiful thing!  DCC&A loves working with committees such as these and they empower us to achieve the best results for their organisations and their events and conferences. 

Written by Dianna Crebbin, Director, DCC&A