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How can we improve the effectiveness of committees at my club?

A good starting point is to first check to see that the committees you have are important. Club bylaws typically specify five to seven essential committees, but many clubs will have 10 or more. It is often the case that the ones that are additional to your original charter were created at some point to address a specific issue, but they remained in place once that work was addressed. You’ll want to clean this us as nonessential committees create busy-work that wastes precious member and executive time and club resources. The types of issues they focus on are better handled by a task force, which is a group formed to examine a specific issue and then disband when the work is complete.

Like most things, performance will improve if the team gets off to a good start. Begin by giving each committee a thorough orientation at the start of the year. This should include a high-level review of the club’s mission and strategy and their charter and a walk-through of the facilities that make up their department.

Once you’ve established that your committee system includes only the ones you need and want, organize the calendar to focus on a specific topic at a meeting or in a series of meetings. For example, the House Committee might review the types and styles of dining your club offers in March, review the appearance and condition of the facilities in May and discuss how the club compares to outside competition in July. Don’t wait until the start of each month to decide what to talk about at that month’s upcoming meeting. It is also healthy to review meeting frequency. A club’s Finance and Membership Committees should meet every month, but that may not be necessary or constructive for other committees. It is likely that if you bring together a dozen people each month they will think it is their duty to come up with a slate of new ideas and recommendations. Six, or maybe even four meetings focused on weighty topics will produce better results than rote meetings

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 also serves as vice chairman of NCA and chairs the Communications Committee. He can be reached at [email protected]