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Help Sheet

Overview of Committee of Management meetings

In this help sheet, the term 'Committee of Management' (COM) is used but it is intended to apply to whatever governance structure your group has, such as a Board. The term "CEO" (Chief Executive Officer) is used but it is intended to apply to whatever name your group has for its head person (coordinator, general manager, chief executive, executive director etc.).

The main function of a Committee of Management (COM) member is to take part in COM meetings. All major decisions are made at the ordinary meetings so it is impossible to be an effective member if you are not a regular attendee.

The structures and styles of meetings differ from committee to committee. They may be formal or informal, open or closed, short or long.

Whatever their structure, the best meetings are those that flow logically, keep all members engaged and energised, elicit a range of useful ideas and information and leave COM members feeling they have made a valuable and valued contribution.

Purpose of meetings

The primary reason for holding meetings is to allow the COM to make decisions. However, meetings also serve a range of other important functions, providing a forum where:

COM members will be involved in a range of meetings during their term. This help sheet primarily discusses ordinary meetings, but other meetings include:

Meeting structure

As mentioned above, meetings can vary markedly from group to group. Some are quite formal, adhering to strictly defined rules and ensuring all members are addressed by their correct titles ("President Smith," "Madam Chair," and so on). Others are far less formal - usually it will depend on the make-up and function of the COM, how it was set up and how it has evolved.

Meeting lingo

Not all first-time COM members will be familiar with all the terms that are used during meetings. The following is provided to help the uninitiated make some sense of it all.

The Agenda

The Agenda is the list of things that will be discussed during the meeting. It is usually sent to COM members well in advance of the meeting to ensure everyone has a chance to read and digest it before the meeting starts.

Some more sophisticated agendas go further than a simple list, also providing supporting information (explanations, related documents, etc.), as well as details about who will address each item, recommendations for action and how much time each item is expected to take up.

The Minutes

The Minutes are the official record of the actions and decisions of the COM. They are taken every meeting and approved the next time the COM meets. Generally, meeting minutes will include:

The minutes are sometimes approved without much thought, or even having not been read by COM members. This is a dangerous practice. The minutes show who voted for what and what action the COM has committed itself to - and they may be referred to as the official record days and weeks and even years after a decision has been made. They should therefore not be treated lightly.

Motions and Resolutions

A "motion" is a proposal for action. "Moving" a motion simply means putting the proposal forward to be voted on. Sometimes motions are amended or reworded before being put to the vote. If the motion is approved by the COM, it is referred to as a "resolution" (i.e. the COM's decision), which can be legally binding.

Quorum

The word "quorum" refers to the minimum number of COM members who have to present for the COM to legally transact business. Your organisation's constitution should spell out what numbers are required for meetings to take place.

The Role of the Chair

COM meetings cannot take place without a COM Chair. The role of the Chair is to ensure the meeting is conducted efficiently and that meeting rules are adhered to. The Chair should facilitate discussions, keep members on track and the meeting on time. When a topic has been fully discussed, the Chair will often summarise the points and put the motion to the COM for a decision or vote.

Between meetings

COM members should not think that their role begins when the COM meeting starts and ends when it closes. Before meetings, members should make a careful reading of the agenda and ensure they clarify any points that are unclear. After meetings, members should review the minutes as soon as they are circulated (while the meeting is fresh in their minds) and make note of any amendments they think are needed. Members should also carry out any tasks they have been assigned and keep track of their progress for reporting purposes at the next meeting.

 

 

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