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How to Accomplish Effective Committees

Sections of This Topic Include

How to Increase Attendance and Participation in Committees
Additional Perspectives on Effective Committees

Also consider
Related Library Topics

Learn More in the Library's Blogs Related to Effective Committees

In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which have posts related to effective committees. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog.

Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Supervision Blog
Library's Team Performance Blog

Note that the reader might best be served to first read the topic Group Dynamics to understand the basic nature of most groups and their typical stages of development. (It's not clear at this time if online groups have similar nature and stages.)

How To Increase Attendance and Participation in Committees

To increase attendance and/or participation in committee meetings, consider some or all of the following:

  • Ensure committee chairs understand and can convey the role of the committee to members, and that the chair and members have up-to-date job descriptions.
  • Ensure adequate orientation that describes the organization and its unique services, and how the committee contributes to this mission.
  • Remember that the organization and its committees deserve strong attendance and participation. Don't fall prey to the perspective that "we're lucky just get anyone." Set a standard for the best.
  • Have ground rules that support participation and attendance. Revisit the ground rules every other meeting and post them on the bottom of agendas.
  • Let go of "dead wood." It often help to decrease the number of committee members rather than increase them.
  • Consider using subcommittees to increase individual responsibilities and focus on goals.
  • Conduct yearly committee evaluations that includes a clear evaluation process and where each committee member evaluates the other members, and each member receives a written report about their strengths and how they can improve their contributions.
  • Attempt to provide individual assignments to the committee members.
  • Have at least one staff member participate in each committee to help with administrative support and providing information.
  • For board of director's committees, monitor quorum requirements for the entire board (as set forth usually in ByLaws), or the minimum number of board members who must be present for the board to officially enact business. This quorum, when not met, will serve as a clear indicator, or signal, that the board is in trouble.
  • Develop a committee attendance policy that specifies the number of times a member can be absent in consecutive meetings and in total meetings per time period.
  • Generate minutes for each committee meeting to get closure on items and help members comprehend the progress made by the committee.
  • In committee meeting reports, include noting who is present and who is absent.
  • Consider having low-attendance members involved in some other form of service to the organization, e.g., a "friends of the organization," or something like that, who attends to special events rather than ongoing activities.
  • Have a "summit meeting" with committee members to discuss the low attendance problem, and use a round-table approach so each person must speak up with their opinions.
  • Rotate in new members every year.

Additional Perspectives on Effective Committees

Facilitation Library
Best Practice Advice for Committees
Building Successful Boards Committees
Ideas to Generate Participation in Committees
Effective Committees

Also consider
Action Learning
Board Committees
Communities of Practice
Conflict Management
Focus Groups
Group Coaching
Group Dynamics (about nature of groups, stages of group development, etc)
Group Learning
Group-Based Problem Solving and Decision Making
Large-Scale Interventions
Meeting Management
Open Space Technology
Self-Directed and Self-Managed Work Teams
Team Building
Training and Development
Virtual Teams

For the Category of Facilitation and Teams:

To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

Related Library Topics

Recommended Books