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Should My Club Have Committees?

Committees can be a blessing or a curse in the scheme of private club governance and management. When they step over the boundary from advisors to managers, it is disruptive, frustrating and a waste of resources. On the other hand, the absence of this front-line input is a missed opportunity, as they provide a window into the type of member experience that would be best for your club. My experience is the club and a GM’s ability to manage it would be greatly enhanced by a well-aligned and functioning committee system.

Here are a few tips for improving the performance of your committees. First, have board members serve as the chairperson. This is better than the liaison system as they will be more aware and passionate about the issues, making them more effective advocates when communicating the merits of any motions at board meetings.

Another step is to provide the committees a tutorial on the club’s financial structure. Members often have a limited understanding of how the club generates cash and capital, a weakness that undermines committee performance.

On a broader level, there is also value in bringing all committee members together at the start of the club year, or after any board retreat or strategy update, to provide them insight into the club’s direction and key issues. This will help them better understand where the club is headed and the role they can play in bringing this vision to reality. For example, if the board has identified increasing the club’s family focus as a key initiative, then each of the committees can strategize how their area can ramp up efforts to support this goal.

The House Committee can be thinking about family dining, or the Golf Committee could recommend increases in junior golf programs and activities. Absent this guidance, they are more likely to continue doing what they’ve always done.

Finally, use surveys and other feedback mechanisms to give your committees accurate data on the membership experience. If they have facts about member priorities and satisfaction, they’ll be in a much better position to be a more effective voice for the membership.

Frank Vain is president of McMahon Group, Inc., a premier full-service, private club consulting firm serving more than 1,900 private clubs around the world. He serves as NCA Vice Chairman and chairs the Communications Committee. He can be reached at [email protected].