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Committee Management Guide

  1. The Role of ACSL Committees/Working Groups  

    As the College is governed by the College Council, the Council creates committees and working groups and charges them with specific areas of importance to the College's mission and goals.

    A system of committees/working groups is fundamental to the operation of the College to enable it to continue to provide its members with:

    • Policy development.
    • Expert advice to Council.
    • Commenting on policy/legislative initiatives and reports by Government and relevant authorities.
    • Drawing attention to problems with the law and justice issues generally and seeking appropriate amendments.
    • A forum for consideration of practical problems being experienced by members as a source of information on various issues for dissemination to members.

    Committee/Working Groups also provide a forum for members to participate in the life of the College. Members gain professionally and personally from the collegial contacts.

  2. Serving as a Committee/Working Group Member

    2.1 Finance/Budget Issues

    Membership of College's committees/workshop groups is voluntary and unpaid. Any expenditure by the committees/workshop groups requires prior approval by the Council or, where appropriate, by the General Manager.

    2.2 Basic Function

    Under the leadership of the Chair and with the assistance of the General Manager, committee/working groups work together to set the agenda and accomplish the tasks of the committee/working groups, ensuring that the committee/working groups propose sound policies and develop imaginative and viable proposals. Committee/working groups report to the committee/working group's Chair.

    2.3 Responsibilities

    • Review all relevant materials in advance.
    • Attend meetings.
    • Provide thoughtful input.
    • Work towards fulfilling the committee/working groups group's objectives.
    • Carry out individual assignments.
    • Focus on the College's best interest rather than personal or constituent interests.

    2.4 Reporting the Meeting

    Minutes of all committee/working groups' meetings are to be kept. A member of the committee/working groups or the General Manager should be designated by the Chair at the beginning of the meeting to take the minutes. The Chair must ensure that the responsibility for taking minutes is shared.

    When preparing notes from a committee/working groups meeting:

    • Include the date, time and place of the meeting. Note the Chair, members present and absent and others in attendance.
    • Note all formal motions and passage or defeat.
    • Note all decisions reached, including motions passed, with follow-up actions to be taken, by whom, and within what timeframe.
    • Include a brief summary of discussions, without necessarily attributing comments.
    • Note the time and place of the next meeting.
    • Send the report to the Chair (by email if possible) so the Chair can review it and attach a cover note before distributing it to all committee/working group members , including those who did not attend, within three weeks after the meetings. The faster the distribution, the less the controversy.

    2.5 Confidentiality

    Committee/working group members are often provided with material that has been given to the College on a confidential basis by governments or other authorities. Members should be conscious that they may be given access to material that is highly sensitive and they should take care to ensure that agendas, minutes and other material are secured and kept.

    2.6 Protocol for Making Submissions and/or Formulating Policy

    Any submissions made on behalf of the College must be submitted to the President of ACSL and sent out under the President's signature.

    Any initiatives recommended by committee/working groups that involve the College policy considerations require the approval of Council.

    In the interests of consistency of the College's position Chairs and members of the College's committee/working groups should not, in their capacity as Chairs and members of ACSL's committee/working groups, communicate with the media without first consulting College President, as the College's President is to be the primary spokesperson for ACSL in respect of issues affecting the College.

  3. Basic Function

    Consistent with College Rules, policies and strategic plan, the committee/working groups' Chair leads the committee/working groups in fulfilling its charge from the Council.

    3.1 Responsibilities

    • Accepts and supports the committees'/working groups' charge, not one's own agenda.
    • Plans committee/working groups' meetings and agenda in collaboration with the General Manager.
    • In consultation with the members and the General Manager develops the committee/working groups charge and objectives.
    • Attends all meetings and keeps an ongoing awareness of committee/working groups between the meetings.
    • Where appropriate, draft responses to members' enquiries which are considered by the committee/working groups.
    • Maintains records of committee/working groups' work.
    • Reports to the committee/working groups group members through the General Manager on decisions of the Council that affect their work.
    • Facilitates members' active participation and decision-making.
    • Ensure that committee/working groups report in accordance with this charter.
    • Leads self-assessment of the committee/working groups.
    • Recommends potential committee/working groups members and future leaders to the Council.
    • Membership of committee/working groups should be representative of the College membership. Regional representation on committee/working groups is encouraged, and committee/working groups operate so as to facilitate regional participation.

    3.2 Making Initial Contact with Committee/Working Group Members

    • After the General Manager sends the initial appointment letter, the Chair contacts the new member to welcome that member to the committee/working groups.
    • After the General Manager sends the orientation package (including this charter, a list setting out details of the current members of the relevant committee/working groups and a copy of the last College Annual Report), the Chair contacts the new member to answer any questions.

    3.3 Developing & Structuring the Agenda

    The Chair with the assistance of the General Manager should craft the agenda about three weeks before the meeting. The agenda needs to make clear the purpose of the meeting and to focus the committees'/working groups' attention on the tasks at hand. Include only what requires a face-to-face-meeting. Sequence agenda items thoughtfully. For each topic indicate what is needed (i.e., discussion or action) and identify the person presenting. Provide clear summary of policy matters, important points and recommendations. Attach background information as needed for each agenda item – the meeting time should be reserved for discussion, not exchange of information. Get all material to the General Manager two weeks before the meeting so that committee/working group members can have it a week in advance.

    To engage as many people in committee/working groups as possible, assign other members the task of introducing an agenda item even it is not their expertise. The Chair might call members ahead of time and say, "I would appreciate it if you'd introduce item number four". This often gives committee/working group members more investment in the meeting.

    It is responsibility of the Chair to settle the agenda.

    3.4 Meetings

    The various committee/working groups will nominate members for the consideration of the Council. The membership of committee/working groups is restricted to College members, unless otherwise authorised by the Council. Non-members may be invited at attend meetings, but they have no voting rights.

    The quorum of all committee/working groups is three, unless otherwise specified by the Council.

    Meeting schedules are set by each committee/working groups and should be finalised at the first meeting of each year. Meetings should not be called by committee/working groups unnecessarily.

    Meetings should never exceed 2 hours and ideally last 1 hour.

    3.5 Location of Meetings

    The committee/working groups should decide on the venue for the meetings and teleconferencing should be arranged for members who cannot attend in person.

    3.6 Tips for Presiding over a Meeting

    • Start up. Begin on time. Allow no more that 5-10 minutes for 'checking in'.
    • Routine agenda. Allow 5-10 minutes to dispose of the routine agenda items.
    • Informational reports. Keep brief and focused.
    • Action items. The bulk of the meeting should be devoted to these.
    • Be a facilitator. Promote and encourage discussion and interaction by members.
    • Focus. For each action item, get members' attention focused at the beginning and negotiate a mutually agreed outcome. Specify the reason for concern and propose an action or invite proposals for actions. If the agenda item is fuzzy, lead in with examples to help the committee/working groups get a handle on it.
    • Be a traffic cop. Conduct and manage the decision process rather than make decisions or discuss matters on the agenda at length. Arrange for all to present their views before you summarise common points of view.
    • Be a visionary. To help members sustain movement and achieve completion, the Chair needs to form some vision of possible target outcomes ahead of time (and to be able to modify that vision in the course of discussion).
    • Prioritise. Keep focused on the strategic priorities.
    • Monitor participation and expedite business. Prevent one-sided discussions. Control talkative members and draw out silent members. Don't let discussions drift or go on too long. Keep on track.
    • Deal with dysfunctional behaviours. Don't let a person who is blocking constructive discussion ruin the committee/working group meetings for everyone else. Strategies include approaching the person privately in a caring manner, pointing out the effects of the behaviors, and suggesting alternative behaviors.
    • Seek consensus, not unanimity. Sometimes an idea is compromised by trying to get every person to agree completely. Consensus does not mean all agree but that everyone is willing to support it or at least go along with it. If the discussion has integrity, participants are more likely to accept a decision.
    • Close the meeting on time. Most members have competing commitments that should be respected.
    • Review. Review the results and plan follow-up with the General Manager.
    • Report. The draft minutes should be sent to the Chair no later than one week after the meeting. In most instances, minutes do not require formal approval by the committee/working groups. A good approach is to send the minutes immediately after the meeting with a statement to contact the Chair or the General Manager if errors are noted. You could say, "If you find errors in the next seven days, let us know and we will distribute a revision".

    3.7 Mandatory Reporting to the Council

    Council will require reports from committee/working groups at least quarterly on dates as specified by Council.

    The purpose of these reports is to bring the Council up to date on key committee/working groups activities and to tie all committee/working groups to the strategic plan of the College. Reports should not exceed two pages. This report is not intended to be exhaustive.

    The report should include the following:

    • Committee/working group name, Chair, members, General Manager.
    • Specific committee/working groups objectives for current period.
    • Key accomplishments since last report to the Council.
    • Key activities planned.
    • Specific policy recommendations to the Council.
    • Strategic directions the committee/working groups is considering, with financial implications noted.
    • Future meeting dates.

    It is the responsibility of the Chair or a designated committee/working group members with the assistance of the General Manager to prepare these reports in a timely manner.

    3.8 Dissemination of Relevant Information to the Council and the General Manager

    Committee/working groups are encouraged to distribute relevant information to Council and to the General Manager.

    3.9 Using the Conference Call and/or Video-Conferencing

    Conference calls are most effective with a maximum of eight participants. Here are some guidelines:

    • Keep the agenda limited; if necessary, have more than one call.
    • Send out materials in advance. Include an agenda and roster of participants. Be clear on the type of outcome expected for each topic.
    • 30 minutes is the average attention span for any one discussion item; two hours is the maximum time for the entire teleconference and/or video-conference.
    • Start on time and end on time.
    • Review the rules in the beginning, e.g. ask people to identify themselves by name before talking; limit comments to a few minutes; make clear what actions are to be taken, etc.
  4. ACCAL General Manager

    The College shall have the General Manager as secretarial support for the committee/working groups.

    4.1 Basic Function

    The General Manager works with the Chair to provide leadership to the Committee/working groups by interpreting the College objectives, policies, priorities and procedures; serving as an informed resource person, assisting in facilitating discussions and activities which address the Committee/working groups' charge; and helping to guide the work in conjunction with the College's management practices and budgets.

    4.2 Responsibilities

    • Provide orientation for a new committee/working groups Chair and assists the Chair in providing orientation for new members.
    • Works with the Chair to develop an effective plan of work.
    • Works with the Chair to develop agendas and conduct effective meetings.
    • Works to make logistical arrangements for meetings, distribute minutes to Committee/working groups and to the Council, archives minutes, and maintain calendars.
    • Reviews all written material produced by committee/working groups with the Chair and arranges for any revisions before distribution.
    • Works with the Chair, other committee/working groups' members and other personnel to ensure that the work of the committee/working groups is carried on between committee/working groups meetings.
    • Facilitates communication of committee/working groups' activities, including requests for action or propose.
    • Reports to the committee/working groups on decisions made by the Council or other committee/working groups that impact on the committee/working groups activities.

    4.3 The Effective General Manager

    • Is thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the committee/working groups work, including its scope, subjects under discussion, and related College policies.
    • Understands how the committee/working groups charge interfaces with other work of the College.
    • Coordinates Council interaction with committee/working groups.

    4.4 Working with the Committee/Working groups' Chair

    • Keep in touch. Note contacts on a calendar so too much time doesn't pass in between.
    • Ensure that the Chair understands the policy and budget constraints of all committee/working groups activities.
    • Ensure that the Chair executes his/her administrative duties.
    • Provide administrative support for the committee/working groups throughout the year. The level of support should be agreed on by the Chair and the General Manager. Be clear on how much administrative support the General Manager can offer. Be up front on the limitations.
    • Help the Chair prepare agendas.
    • Facilitate preparation and distribution of reports. If the General Manager drafts the minutes, the Chair reviews and approves it. The minutes go out over the Chair's signature.

    4.5 Orienting the Chair

    • Make initial contact with the Chair within a month of the appointment.
    • Review the committee/working groups' charge and current objectives and link them to the College's strategic plan.
    • Review recent achievements of the committee/working groups and ongoing projects.
    • Develop with the Chair a program for at lease a year's work.
    • Specify the level of assistance available.
    • Clarify governance issues. Review and clarify the bounds of the committee/working groups group's activity and authority. Review the College Rules and relevant College policies, practices and procedures that affect the committee/working groups. Note where the work of other committee/working groups may overlap with or affect the committee/working groups. In particular, discuss how the committee/working groups make policy recommendations to the Council and whether it has money (e.g. grant funds) to spend.
    • Agree on administrative tasks.
  5. The Successful Meeting

    5.1 Checklist for Managing the Meeting Onsite

    • The General Manager should arrive early to check the room setup and distribute meeting materials.
    • Agree in advance on content and process (flow of engagement, order).
    • Set up so that everyone has eye contact with one another.
    • Don't pass out a lot of new material during the meeting. People won't have time to read it and it distracts from good discussion.
    • Ensure that there are no physical distractions – check temperature, air circulation, lights, refreshments and ambient noise.
    • The Chair and General Manager should go over all agenda items before the meeting begins. Avoid surprises.

    5.2 Sample Timeline for Committee/Working groups

    One week after previous meeting

    Committee/working groups' member mails draft meeting report to Chair and General Manager for review.

    Three weeks out from next meeting

    General Manager sends notice of meeting to Committee/working groups' members.

    Two weeks out from next meeting

    Chair develops the committee/working groups agenda, which is then forwarded to the General Manager for distribution to committee/working groups' members.

    1-2 Days out from next meeting

    General Manager confirms arrangements to all attendees.

  6. General Matters

    To the extent that is permitted by law, the College claims copyright over papers and materials prepared by the committee/working groups as part of their committee responsibilities.