Set a structure for your committees

Working with groups often includes committees. They need clarity on their purpose and authority.

The following template worked well for me.

Terms of Reference:

Each committee should have a Terms of Reference document (ToR) that, at a minimum, describes the purpose, scope and authority of the committee. The purpose of the committee is the most important section of this document and unless you have a very good reason, you should not proceed to create a committee without a clearly defined purpose.

Typically, the ToR is a written road map for the committee and contains clear and specific information on how the committee is organized, what the committee is trying to achieve, who the members are, and when and they meet. A clear and understandable ToR is the first step to a successful committee!

Below are typical sections of a ToR document. Each section needs to be customized to the unique needs of your committee. More formal committees usually need more formal information and instructions

Committee Name – Official name of the committee or group

Type – Can be standing, ad hoc (special project) or advisory (related to another board, committee or project)

Purpose – Describe the purpose of the committee (what the committee will do, why it was created)

Scope – Clearly describe what is in and out of scope for the committee

Authority – Describe the decision-making authority of the committee (decides, approves, recommends, etc.)

Membership – Type and number of members, how members are appointed, how the chair and co-chair are appointed and a list of members (Name and functional role)

Meeting arrangements – Meeting frequency and location, meeting procedures (if applicable), quorum, details about agendas and minutes (how these will be distributed, available online, who prepares them, etc.), communication between meetings.

Reporting – Describe whom the committee will report to, in what format, how often

Resources and budget – Describe the available resources (people, rooms, equipment, etc.) and the funds available to the committee

Deliverables – Describe the requested/required committee output

Review – State the ToR review frequency and next review date

Author: Yvonne Simpson

This blog shares my leadership journey and my passion for educating to lead.

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