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Help Sheet

Keeping your Committee of Management fresh

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.).

Even a Committee of Management (COM) that functions effectively in the beginning can become stale or lose its focus. It can become necessary to recharge the batteries. This can involve seeking new members, up-skilling and inspiring existing members, or looking again at the goals and structures of the organisation.

Many situations can bring about a need for such a review. The environment may have changed around you, presenting new challenges that create the need for new attitudes and new reactions. There may be personal disputes among members of the COM, and these relationships may lead the COM down unproductive avenues. The organisation itself may have changed and may need to expand or shrink.

In all these circumstances you will need a COM that reflects the needs and interests of its members, that offers the necessary skills and expertise to navigate the surrounding terrain, and that can adapt productively to change.

How to identify the need to revitalise a Committee of Management

The COM is the most important part of a community group, setting its directions and ensuring it stays on track and vital. If a COM is dysfunctional, the community group it serves will also be in danger. And an ineffective COM that cannot even get the basics right has little chance of fulfilling all of its legal and financial responsibilities, meaning the group as well as the individual COM members may be heading towards trouble.

If your COM can no longer provide leadership or fresh ideas, the group appears to be stagnating or money is becoming an issue, it may be time to spice things up.

Indicators that might suggest the need for change include:

Do you need a change?

Change for change's sake is not necessarily a good thing. The old rule "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" has not been repealed.

Stable COMs with long-serving, committed members will have the advantage of a thorough knowledge of the organisation and its mission. One could argue that if a member is long-serving, they have a lot more than a passing interest in the group and its ongoing success. They know the history of the group and know what works - if the group is still functioning well.

It is important, however, that the COM represents and reflects the interests of the group and its members. Complaints are still heard that some people sit on COMs until they die rather than retire graciously, although in recent times many groups have established fixed terms and guidelines that prohibit existing or past COM members from serving beyond one or two terms.

Of course a certain amount of change within an organisation can also have far-reaching positive effects - even the smallest changes can stimulate or revitalise a group.

Why and how?

If you have decided that change is necessary for your COM, it is important to then work out why you want change and what result you want to achieve. Merely replacing 90% of your COM without a clear strategy in place will do little to improve the situation - in fact, it is likely to have highly damaging effects on your group's morale and stability.

The point is to be clear of your objectives.

Once you have worked out why you want to change, you need to think about the best method for achieving the kind of improvements your COM needs. Consider whether the problem is with organisational structures or whether the problem is with the people who fill the positions (it may, of course, be both).

Making the change

The first and most important task is to get the COM to the point where it can bring about its own regeneration. It is a good idea to draw up a plan to involve all members in the process of change - that way, they are more likely to feel ownership of the process and less likely to resist any changes that need to be made. The process of change can be slow or sudden, cosmetic or extensive - the approach taken will depend on how dire the situation is and how much resistance is encountered.

If the COM cannot be led to acknowledge the problem, then the only way to bring about reform is to use the election procedures to change personnel. This can be damaging to organisational cohesion and morale, and should be undertaken only as a last resort.

Some less painful methods of achieving regeneration include:

Obviously the approach you take and the regeneration methods you use will depend on the type of change required and the particular culture of your group and its COM.

How to ensure your Committee of Management stays energised

If you pay close attention to COM appointments you are half way to having a healthy, vital COM. Naturally, maintaining excellence takes a lot of hard work and commitment.

Tips for maintaining an enthusiastic Committee of Management:



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