Management Matters – Committee Meetings
Management Committee meetings are vital to the effective functioning of the service. They are the means by which the committee exercises its collective responsibility for leading the organisation. Meetings are necessary for:
- Decision making
- Problem solving
Management Committee meetings are more productive if they are planned beforehand. Responsibility for planning the meeting lies with the Chairperson along with the Secretary. Meetings are an opportunity for members of the service to get together to plan, communicate essential information, discuss issues, and make decisions. Meetings give everyone the opportunity to have a say in how and why things are, or should be done.
One of the requirements of a successful meeting is to be clear about the purpose of a particular meeting. This can be achieved by circulating the agenda (a list of items to be discussed at a meeting) in advance of the meeting. Furthermore, a meeting will be far more productive if all written reports are distributed with the agenda before the meeting. Often a lot of meeting time can be wasted sitting around reading reams of documents that are handed out at the start of the meeting.
It is generally a good idea to open up the meetings to everyone connected with the service as much as possible. Doing this allows people, who may not have the time to become permanent committee members, the opportunity to develop an understanding of how the service operates.
Here are some tips for successful meetings:
- Hold the meeting on a day that is convenient for the majority of committee members. Regular dates (e.g. first Monday of each month) can be helpful for those with busy schedules.
- Find the best time to start meetings to suit most people. This might be early, as they collect their children and before they go home for the night – or people may prefer to go home, settle children and return after dinner
- Always provide refreshments. Tailor these to the situation. For busy people a light snack, including food for children if the meeting is early, is appreciated.
- Avoid long agendas with the ‘hot’ issues at the beginning and everyday things at the end. You will never complete the agenda and those everyday topics will never have an airing.
- Some items should appear on every agenda. A short report of any Work, Health and Safety issues and actions is one such item
- Let members know the business to be discussed in advance
- Prepare and circulate a draft agenda to each member about a week before the meeting.
- Limit the agenda items and allocate a specific amount of time to each item, to ensure that they can be covered appropriately within the time allowed for the meeting.
- If there are papers/reports to be discussed, include these with the agenda. Members can read them and be familiar with the issues prior to the meeting. Included should be the Coordinators report, a list of correspondence in and out, the Treasurers and Chairpersons report. This ensures valuable meeting time is not being used to read reports, but rather to discuss and clarify the reports and any issues that may arise from them.
- Ensure the venue is comfortable and quiet!
- Consider seating arrangements. Sitting around a U shaped or round table works well.
- Check that any technical equipment to be used is set up and ready to operate.
- Begin the meeting on time and with a welcome.
- Show members they are valued by thanking them for their attendance.
- Ask for any additional agenda items
- Review the agenda, clarify issues relating to topics and consider possible time-lines.
- Suggest and discuss ground rules for how the meeting will be conducted, for example, the coordinator may be asked to leave the meeting to allow the management committee to discuss certain issues. The service’s constitution should outline these details.
- Be familiar with formal meeting procedure, for example:
- A quorum is required to conduct a legally valid meeting. (A quorum is the minimum number of people the service’s constitution states is required for a meeting).
- Proposed resolutions (decisions) are put to the meeting by way of motions. A motion requires a person to move the motion (the mover), and another person to second it (the seconder). Attendees are invited to speak for the motion or against it.
- Amendments to the motion may also be made before it is put to, or agreed to at the meeting.
- Insure someone is responsible for taking meeting minutes.
- Follow the agenda. Keep the meeting from getting off track.
- Clarify the issues. Use a disciplined process to gather the facts and come to a decision. Strive for consensus with key decisions. Summarise important points.
- Manage the time. Assign a timekeeper to assist with this if necessary.
- Make the tasks to be completed following the meeting, and who is responsible for them, explicit, record these on an Action Sheet and distribute it as soon as possible after the meeting.
- Distribute minutes of the meeting within one day, or as soon as possible, after the meeting.
Minutes of Meetings – not such a daunting task…
It is vital that all organisations keep an accurate record of meetings in the form of written minutes. There are many examples where the absence of proper records has been the downfall of OSHC services. Without a “paper trail” it is often impossible to substantiate or refute decisions made. The minutes of meetings provide the most important ongoing record of a service’s activities and therefore it is therefore essential that they are accurate, well presented and the official copy stored appropriately in a secure location.
For these reasons, many people are daunted by the prospect of taking minutes. However, minutes are simply a brief, but formal record of what transpired at the meeting and NOT a transcript of the meeting. It is not necessary to record every word that is spoken at the meeting but it is necessary to record every decision made. Minutes are summaries and should be presented as headings and short summary points with follow up actions and tasks allocated to people clearly noted. Actions and tasks included in the minutes form the basis of the agenda for the next meeting.
The following is a guide for making the task of taking minutes of meetings easier:
- Be prepared before the meeting starts. Prepare an outline in advance, based on the agenda and leave plenty of space for notes. By having the topics already written down, you can jump right to a new topic without pause.
- Prepare a list of expected attendees and tick off the names as people enter the room. Or, you can pass around an attendance sheet for everyone to sign before the meeting starts.
- Ensure that all of the essential elements are noted, such as type of meeting, name of the organisation, date and time, place of meeting, name of the chairperson or facilitator, main topics and the time of commencement and finish of the meeting.
- To be sure about who said what, make a map of the seating arrangement, and make sure to ask for introductions of unfamiliar people.
- Don’t make the mistake of recording every single comment. Concentrate on getting the gist of the discussion and taking enough notes to summarise it later. Think in terms of issues discussed, major points raised and decisions reached.
- Use whatever recording method is comfortable for you, a notepad, a laptop computer, a tape recorder, or shorthand. It might be a good idea to make sound recordings of important meetings as a backup to your notes. It would be necessary to get permission of attendees before recording a meeting.
- If you are an active participant in the meeting, be prepared! Study the issues to be discussed and have your questions ready ahead of time. If you have to concentrate on grasping the issues while you are making your notes, they won’t make any sense to you later. Or in some instances, it may be necessary to ask for another person to take the minutes if you are actively involved in the discussion.
- Don’t wait too long to write up the minutes – this task is best done as soon as possible after the meeting while your memory is fresh. Be sure to have the minutes approved by the chairperson or facilitator before distributing them to the attendees.
“Decision making is much more effective if the committee establishes
not only what is to be done, but also
how and when it will be done and by whom.”
The following information outlines the types of meetings that an Outside School Hours Care service would hold.
A: Ordinary Committee Meetings
Ordinary committee meetings are held regularly, usually monthly or 6 weekly. The frequency of meetings should be included in the service’s Constitution.
They are generally attended by the management committee, any sub-committees, and the Nominated Supervisor/coordinator and are open to other interested persons connected with the service – for example, parents, school principal, other staff, etc. The management committee must advise other attendees if all or part of a meeting is closed to anyone except the office bearers – this information must be included in the service’s Constitution.
The business of an Ordinary Committee Meeting is to:
- Monitor and review progress towards meeting the aims of the organisation
- Monitor financial performance
- Ensure all activities are consistent with the service’s purpose and mission
- Plan annual general meetings
- Initiate and review internal and external policy positions and statements
- Decide on management and governance systems and processes
- Decide on the most appropriate methods of funding raising and considering
applications for funding
- Delegate work
- Discuss and make decisions on new proposals
- Plan for the future and identify new opportunities
- Decide on appropriate staffing requirements, staff terms and conditions.
B: Annual General Meeting
An Annual General Meeting (AGM) must be held at least once in each calendar year and within six months from the end of the organisation’s financial year.
The main purpose of an Annual General Meeting is to comply with legal requirements, such as the presentation of reports on the activities of the service, the presentation and approval of the audited accounts, election of office bearers, and appointment of the auditor for the new accounting term.
The business of an AGM is to:
- Confirm the minutes of the last AGM and of any special general meeting held since that meeting
- Receive the report from the Chairperson/President on the activities and overall performance of the service during the last year
- Receive the reports from the Coordinator and any sub-committees
- Receive and consider the annual financial statement from the Treasurer and discuss any comments from the Auditor
- Elect office-bearers, including ordinary members of the committee and
- Elect the Auditor
- Allow general discussion on issues relating to running the service
C: Special General Meeting
A Special General Meeting (SGM) is a meeting of members of an organisation, shareholders of a company, or employees of an official body, which occurs at an irregular time. An SGM is usually held when an issue arises that requires the input of the entire membership and is too serious or urgent to wait until the next AGM. Members should be informed of the meeting and a quorum must be present.
An AGM is also known as an Extraordinary Meeting or an Emergency General Meeting.
The business of an AGM is to:
- Deal with issues that arise requiring a majority decision – for example, a significant change in the structure of the service
- Deal only with business specified in the notice convening a special general meeting.