Why does the committee’s role seem unclear?
This area of life is beset with language problems which generate endless confusion. The two main areas of confusion are in the naming of the committee members especially in relation to staff and because the different sectors (public, private and voluntary) name and define things differently. (See more here at What are the members of the committee called?).
The second area of confusion is the language used to describe the role. For instance the committee’s main role is to decide what the organisations is trying to achieve. This can be expressed in many ways, such as
- Set the direction
- Choose the priorities
- Safeguard the vision
- Determine the mission
- Map out the aims
- Set the objectives
These are all essentially saying the same thing but in language that may be more familiar or more comfortable for a particular group of individuals. (See more here at ‘I’ve been given a list of duties that includes things like ‘Determine the mission’ and ‘guard the values’.’ Using appropriate vocabulary and understanding what others truly mean is the key to overcoming governance difficulties and misunderstandings within and between committees.
Who are the committee? It isn’t clear to me in my organisation as a broad range of people seem to take part in decision making.
First identify the ‘top’ committee:
Determine if this is the ‘top’ committee, i.e. the highest decision making body. Ask yourself is there anywhere higher to refer decisions to? The buck stops with the committee.
Secondly, identify the legitimate members of this committee;
The simple test if someone is on the ‘top’ committee (whatever you call it – management committee, executive committee, board of trustees etc) is “Do they take part in the decision making on this committee?” In other words, do they take a full part in the discussions and subsequent decision making – could they vote on a decision if it were put to a vote?
But if I apply this test to my group it includes people who are emphatic that they are not members of the management committee.
We have committee members with different names. Some are called management committee members and three of them maintain that they are the trustees. Can this right?