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March 2015

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Committees: 5 Important Ways They Add Value

Written by , Posted in Business, Leadership

Committee at work.

Committees: 5 Important Ways They Add Value

“I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die while you discuss this invasion in a committee!” Queen Amidala, Star Wars, The Phantom Menace.

You may not be discussing invasion plans for you closest business competitor, but everyone’s sentiment of committees is the same, stuffy, slow, unresponsive, too late. No one likes a committee except the old coot who gets to hear his own voice a lot. You get that a lot in politics and the government.

But here’s the thing. A committee, when it’s done well, can be very powerful. Just this week I had a meeting with an organization that I’m a part of and we struck three committees. As a group we couldn’t come to a consensus. There were too many voices.

5 Benefits of the committee

1. Reduce Workload On Some Of The Employees

Do you have that one person who ends up doing most of the work in your office? You know the one. You know you could only get more out of them if there were more hours in the day. Then there’s the rest of your employees who you’d like to fire some days because they’re as lazy as the cat sleeping out on the sidewalk. A committee achieves their goals by working together. Everyone does their part so the collective goal is achieved. And then of course, anyone who doesn’t pull their own weight is addressed by their co-workers instead of management.

2. Buy In

Decisions that come down from above can sometimes feel like commandments dictated by faceless managers. When employees have a say in their destiny they have more faith in the decisions that are made. Whether the committee is designed to gather information and make suggestions or to make the decisions directly, the employees on the committee will feel more comfortable with the decisions. That buy-in or empowerment will become contagious as other employees drink the cool-aid.

3. Build Trust

Throw a group of people in a room and make their lives depend on it. The military complex has been doing it for centuries. In times of great strife, when everything depends on how well the team works together, you either succeed or fail. While the boss can inspire and direct, the output is only as good as the team itself. Eventually, the team learns to rely on each other as they build trust. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

4. Gather More Verified Information.

Ever hear of the saying that two heads is better than one? They were talking about teams. And teams, or committees, are all about getting things done better. When you build a committee, you can either place all the like-minded individuals on it, or those with opposite ideals. When you choose people from opposing camps there is an element of competition. The Yea’s want to prove the Nay’s wrong and vice versa. They seek out verification to prove their points so when the information comes to you, you know every valid argument that could be given has been.

5. Make Decisions Faster

As a manager or employer you need to make decisions, but you only have so much time to gather information. You can’t safely make decisions in the heat of the moment if there’s a chance those decisions aren’t warranted. It may not be a situation of life or death, but what if it was to do with firing someone or about which client to offer the discount to? Whoops, you should have chosen the other client because they bought more and then felt slighted so the next time they’ll go elsewhere. Oh well. Better luck next time. Or rather yet, why not empower your committee to gather that information for you? Then in the heat of the moment you aren’t make snap decisions. You’re making wasting your time looking up information because you already have it.

Committees get a bad rap. Under used, the committee can achieve great things for your business. They can make your business more agile as you gather information towards your goals and then your people will appreciate you more because they’ve had a hand in the decisions that you’re making.

If committees aren’t run well they can just as easily be destructive. They can breed distrust as members offer poor advice or worse, disseminate wrong information. Committees can destroy friendships if there is no buy-in. Employees can end up doing more than their fare share.

The interesting thing about committees is that they are a little different than teams. Teams are more permanent while committees are temporary, brought together for a specific purpose. As much as Queen Amidala and countless other haters would detest them, you could establish a dozen, even two if you want to. The committee could be established for a specific purpose. In fact, you could have three committees comprised of the same people. They make decisions based on the rules set out before them when the committee was established. Or better yet, perhaps you are on committee one, two, and three, each with three different people. You convene different meetings to achieve different goals, but each time with different people who have different perspectives and different information.

Committees can do great things for your company, but they have to be crafted with care. Committees may be able correct the behaviour of the under achievers, but they can’t make things perfect. You have to put the right people on your committees to get the most out of them, but you can achieve greatness with your committees. You can achieve greatness for your business.

What kind of leader are you? Do you appreciate the benefits of the committee? Or do you let the committee become a two headed dragon miring your company in disaster.