State & Local Programs

Ways to Make Committees Work Effectively

Document Author:  Steve Mc Curley, VM Systems
Date Posted:  1/00

1. Make sure that the committee has a real purpose for existence.

2. Make sure that everyone on the committee knows what the purpose is, and agrees with it.

3. Have only the right people on the committee: interested, capable, and willing to work.

4. Remove committee members who are not right for the committee or who do not participate.

5. Don't hold meetings without a clear reason. Call a full committee meeting only when it is the best way to accomplish the task.

6. Give advance notice of meetings, complete with a distributed agenda and reading materials.

7. Encourage everyone to participate during the meeting. Utilize seating arrangements that encourage equality of participation. Use namecards if attendees do not know one another. Discourage members who monopolize the discussion.

8. Set norms for behavior at the first committee meeting, and stick to them.

9. Start and end meetings on time. If work isn't done when time is up, negotiate a time for further discussion.

10. Have an agenda for each meeting. Schedule important items first on the agenda.

11. Allocate time for discussion according to the importance of each issue.

12. Send members a summary of the meeting, keying on the decisions made and on the assignments given.

13. Don't have more than eight people on a committee without breaking it into subcommittees.

14. Be very specific about tasks and deadlines.

15. Don't discuss, re-discuss, and continue to discuss items.

16. Conclude each meeting with a summary of what is to be done by whom.

17. Double-check for agreement on important issues. Seek opposing points of view.

18. Don't allow unrelated discussions during meetings.

19. Make sure everyone gets credit for the accomplishments of the committee.

20. Allow some social time following each meeting.

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