Running Your Committee
An important aspect of being on a Club / Society committee is working with others and encouraging teamwork. Executive committee members (Chairperson, Secretary, and Treasurer) have additional responsibilities for coordinating the whole committee and overseeing the duties of each member.
Working together on a committee can be a hugely rewarding experience, and can develop your skills in:
Written and spoken communication
Time and workload management
Volunteer coordination and motivation
Ability to work as part of a team
Project management and working to deadlines
What do we do when something goes wrong?
It happens – sometimes it’s not all smooth sailing working together on committee. Encountering issues is part of working with other people, whether it’s a personality clash, committee member absenteeism, or something more serious. So what do you do when something goes wrong on committee?
Respond carefully, don’t just react immediately.
Take a deep breath and reflect on the issue before taking any action. Sometimes it’s very tempting to react to a problem in the heat of the moment, but this can lead to anger, arguments, and misunderstandings. Try to keep a cool head and behave in a measured, open-minded, and fair way.
Speak to each other about the issue early.
Is something starting to bubble up? Has a committee member missed a meeting or two with no explanation? Time to chat it over and address the issue.
Put the groupchat away and have this conversation face-to-face (whether online or in-person). Avoid any situation where one person might feel ganged up on and always invite attendees to bring along someone to accompany them if they would like to. When organising this kind of meeting, be upfront about what’s going to be discussed and who will be there.
Get all sides of the story.
Don’t make judgements or take actions until everyone involved has had the chance to share their side of the story. Maybe a committee member has been dealing with an illness or private family matter, and that’s why they’ve dropped a few duties lately. Remember that each person’s wellbeing and studies come first, so it’s natural that Club / Society business might be the first thing to be cut from their schedule.
Agree on a way forward and build in accountability.
After an open, respectful conversation, agree on the next steps. Maybe it’s a readjustment of an individual’s duties or a change in the expectations of the executive committee. Give a timescale for things to improve and hold all parties accountable for their side of the agreement by organising a follow-up chat.
If an issue persists despite your best attempts at resolution, contact the Clubs and Societies team for a chat.
What if we want to remove someone from the committee?
Firstly, take some time for reflection and identify why you feel this way. Is it a personal issue? Have you set an unreasonable standard for this person to reach? Have you had a calm, face-to-face conversation with this person to discuss the problem?
You cannot simply remove someone from committee because you want to, even if a majority of other members agree with you. Also, you should never pressure someone to leave their role, or request that a committee member resigns.
If the issue is the member’s absenteeism, check your constitution to see whether there is a provision for this. Many Clubs and Societies have a clause in their constitution which deems a committee member automatically resigned if they miss three consecutive meetings without sending apologies.
If the issue is member misconduct, read through the process here. If the member has engaged in misconduct which endangers the health and safety of others, contact the Clubs and Societies team directly.
What if I want to leave my committee role?
Sometimes things change, and it no longer suits to hold a role on committee. To leave your role, all you need to do is inform the Club / Society executive committee and email the SU to let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
If you have access to any Club / Society social media accounts, inboxes, or similar, you must hand over all passwords to the committee and log yourself out of the account/s.
If you are owed any reimbursements from the Club / Society account, you need to organise these before you leave your role and within the same committee year as the purchases were made. You cannot receive a reimbursement if you are no longer on committee.
You can help with handing the role over to someone else if you would like to, but this is not required. It is not your responsibility to find or induct a replacement.
What makes a great committee?
Clearly defined committee roles which guide each member in their duties and remits.
You should consult the role descriptions for your executive committee here. For non-executive roles, you should check your individual Club / Society constitution.
Regular face-to-face communication which includes the whole group. Online meetings are a great way to maintain this communication when in-person gatherings aren’t possible.
Don’t rely on written groupchats. It is really difficult to convey (and understand) tone over written messages, and it’s easy for things to descend into sarcastic comments, passive aggression, and ultimately – arguments. Don’t let tensions rise in a groupchat; schedule a face-to-face group meeting to calmly discuss instead.
Also, remember that no committee member should feel they have to respond to messages immediately, or at antisocial times. It’s good practice for us all to disconnect from screens and perhaps mute notifications overnight, during weekends, or over holidays. Use your common sense when sending messages and always give people a reasonable amount of time to respond.
Respectful interpersonal relationships and a commitment to treat others how you would wish to be treated.
At the start of the committee year, why not sit down as a group and agree on the standards of conduct expected within your Club / Society? Get everyone involved so that you can reach a consensus on how members will behave. As a starting point, you could review the relevant Queen’s policies which apply to you all as students.
Reasonable expectations of what each member can achieve within their committee role.
Every person involved on your committee will have a unique schedule and range of abilities which they can bring to their role. However, you need to agree on a fair expectation of what each person can reasonably be expected to do. In terms of time management, remember that some people might be balancing part-time work, caring responsibilities, longer commutes, or other important responsibilities alongside their studies. Also, be mindful that your committee may also include students with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or who are neuro-diverse. These factors could all impact how long a person can spend on committee business, and the number and nature of duties they can reasonably carry out.
There’s nothing wrong with being enthusiastic and spending loads of time working on projects for your Club / Society but remember that this won’t be possible or fair to expect from everyone else.