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Training Your Board Committee Chairs

Amy Schiffman
August 3, 2017

Two weeks ago, we talked about standing board committees – I described the typical standing board committee structure. Now, as you close in on the end of summer and think about getting your board back to work (unless they have been working all summer, and if so, good for you!) I hope you will consider providing your committee chairs with the training and resources they need to do a good job. This is especially critical if you are onboarding new chairs – but don’t take it for granted that your returning chairs know what it is they are supposed to be doing or how to run an effective meeting.

Wondering about the committee chair training agenda? Here’s what is on mine:

  • Discuss the structure and function of effective board committees
  • Determine your committee’s charge (role description)
  • Talk about the value of goal setting
  • Share thoughts on how/when to meet
  • Discuss the delegation of committee responsibilities and board reporting
  • Think about who else should sit on your committee and how to recruit new members
  • Discuss your role as committee chair

I’d also discuss the purpose and function of the standing board committee:

  • Carrying out work of the board
  • Micro vs. macro issues (micro issues should be saved for committee meetings – stay macro at board meetings!)
  • Charters, goals and work-plans (all committees must have all 3)
  • Reporting back to the board
  • Volunteer recruitment/cultivation (committee membership is a great pipeline for the development of new board members!)

Make sure you share your standing board committee org chart (we offered you a sample in our post two weeks ago!) so that everyone has a sense of where their committee fits into the broader picture of the board’s work. It’s also great to cover effective committee management – and this week’s freebie gives you a lot of great information on that topic.

Last – share information about the role of the committee member. In general, committee members:

  • Determine a (campaign, admissions, marketing, finance, etc.) strategy
  • Provide leadership and resources
  • Help to structure the organization/timing of the plan or strategy
  • Define roles and delegate (divide and conquer)
  • Plan events and activities
  • Attend meetings
  • Recruit members
  • Note trends, evaluate effectiveness

I hope this gets you thinking about what type of information you should be sharing with your committee chairs and how you can position them for success this year. And don’t forget to download this week’s freebie, A Committee Chair’s Cheat Sheet To Successful Committee Meetings.

We’d love to hear more about how you are preparing your chairs for the year ahead – please share!