This article throws light upon the seven main guidelines to be followed for making committees effective.
1. The objective or purpose of forming the committee must be clearly specified. Every subject cannot be discussed in the committees. Only matters that require group decision making, related to different departments should be delegated to committees. Matters which require urgent decision-making, related to specific departments can be managed more effectively by individual than the groups.
2. Members forming the committee must be rationally nominated. They should be able to emotionally and intellectually relate to each other. It requires lot of deliberations, analytical skills and innovative abilities to make decisions in the committees. Members should, therefore, come from same levels in different functional areas. Similarity in background (educational or otherwise) promotes effective interaction and decisions in the committees.
3. The committee should not be too large. Large committees can lead to disagreement which can make decision-making ineffective. Size of the committee should justify the purpose of its formation. Large number of members will not reflect true opinion on the subject being discussed and too small a number may also not reflect right opinion on the subject.
There is no definite number of members that constitute the optimum size. It depends on the matter to be discussed. High quality decisions require lengthy deliberations and extensive information and, therefore, require comparatively larger number of members. The optimum number, however, ranges from five to ten members.
4. The agenda for discussion should be sent in advance so that members come prepared with representations. Agenda helps members in effectively understanding and conducting the meeting proceedings. It gives logic to conduct meetings in a scientific way.
It helps in pre-analysing the problem, think of alternative solutions that can be put for discussion and arrive at the decision most acceptable to the members. The entire decision-making process is rationally performed without bias or favour to one or the other.
5. Committees are headed by the chairperson who should be skilled in handling the committee proceedings. He should be able to achieve the objective of the meeting (task role) to the satisfaction of all the members (social role). Though members have conflicting opinions, he should be able to synthesize conflicting opinion of members to arrive at consensus of opinion.
The chairperson should motivate the members to follow the logical procedure for conducting the proceedings; plan the objective, prepare the agenda, carry out the preliminary proceedings, define alternatives, arrive at the best solution acceptable to all without any compromise. After the decision is taken in the meeting, it has to be communicated to rest of the organisational members for their acceptance.
The chairperson of the committee should obtain constant feedback from committee members on what organisational members think about the decisions taken by the respective committees (say production, planning, finance etc.). This helps in review and revision of the decisions for effective functioning of the organisation.
6. The authority of committee member should be well defined. Members should know the decisions, recommendations and actions that they have to work on. As far as possible, matters related to discussion and decisions should be put in writing for reference.
This also avoids ambiguities and promotes effective implementation of decisions. Scope of authority also helps members in knowing their area of discretion and the extent to which they can be flexible in exercising their judgement and innovativeness in arriving at decisions.
7. The proceedings of the meetings have to be preserved for reference, implementation of decisions and scrutiny by any member. These are recorded and preserved in the form of minutes which are usually confirmed in the next meeting.
If, however, the next meeting is not to be held in near future, it is confirmed by members through circulation. Once confirmed, the decision in the meeting is put to implementation. In order to avoid different interpretation of decisions by members, minutes of the meetings should be recorded and circulated to committee members.
If these guidelines are effectively followed, the committees definitely prove advantageous for the organisation. Its limitations can be overcome and the benefits will far outweigh the costs. The benefits can be both tangible and intangible.
Tangible benefits are observed through the achievement of objectives for which the committees are framed and intangible benefits are observed through the commitment and loyalty with which committee members work as a team resulting in high morale and enhancement of analytical and decision-making skills.
Not only for the present, it also provides scope for management development which is beneficial for the organisation in the long-run. Higher managerial positions can be filled from within the organisation which boosts morale of the employees — A perfect sign of the healthy organisation.