• Chairing a Committee Toward Success

    Mar 24, 2014

    Keep committee members on task by starting each meeting with an explanation of the meeting’s goals and how they relate to the committee’s overall objectives.


    Kathleen SanfordIf you’ve been asked to chair a hospital committee, congratulate yourself. This is a sign that your organization’s leadership has confidence in your management skills and ability to get things accomplished. 

    It’s wise to consider how you can meet your committee goals without wasting time and effort. Hospital staff are busy people who don’t want to waste time in meetings that don’t support the organization’s work. Committees that are not led well will have difficulties achieving goals and keeping members engaged. 

    Aligning Members Toward a Goal

    Before the first committee meeting, make sure you understand the overarching principles of the committee. For example: What is the ultimate goal of this committee? Is it a decision-making committee or an advisory group? Should decisions be made by democratic vote or consensus? Share this information with the group at the first meeting, and refer to it if committee members seem to be losing sight of their purpose.

    At the start of each meeting, explain what the goals of that meeting are, and how these objectives relate to the committee’s overall goals. This will help prevent divergent discussions and keep committee members on task.

    Staying on Schedule

    Before each meeting, send the meeting agenda and any necessary reading materials to committee members. The agenda should specify objectives for what the committee intends to accomplish at that meeting, as well as in the long term. Reading materials should include the minutes from the previous meeting, so members can refresh their memories and avoid rehashing old work in the upcoming meeting.

    Related tool: Sample Meeting Agenda

    In addition, be prepared to facilitate the meeting: Hold committee members to pre-set time parameters and, after each topic, give a brief summary of the discussion and any decisions that were made. Also, be sure to draw out the quieter members of the group by asking them direct questions, such as “John, which contractor’s proposal do you prefer and why?”

    Have one member act as secretary, to take notes during the meeting and write up the minutes afterward. Some committees have a different person serve as secretary each time; others have the same person serve in this role. Use whichever method works best for your group.

    Finally, at the end of each meeting, summarize the tasks that need to be done before the next meeting, assign them to committee members, and decide the date by which they will be completed.

    Keeping the Team Motivated

    Ensure that each committee member understands how valuable he or she is, especially after tasks are completed. For example, you might send a thank-you note via email that specifically notes how that person’s specific skills or expertise were useful: “Laura, your purchasing experience was very valuable in helping the rest of us develop the budget for this project.” 

    You might consider copying the supervisors of non-management staff on those thank you notes as well. Committee members will stay more involved in the process if they feel like their contributions are recognized.

    Kathleen D. Sanford, RN, DBA, MBA, MA, FACHE, is senior vice president and CNO, Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver, and a member of HFMA’s Colorado Chapter.

    Related tool: Sample Meeting Agenda