Today’s blog is about meeting attendance. Last week we worked with a group that had mediocre meeting attendance, to say the least, and some issues came up just as they were starting to finalize their plans to implement a solution.
We’ve talked about the importance of commitment from all committee members on previous blogs. It doesn’t matter what kind of committee it is, commitment is essential for a group to be a success. Committed members attend meetings on a regular basis and are involved in the discussion and decision-making from the very beginning until the issue has been resolved and a review is done of the implemented solution to determine if any other action is required.
Unfortunately, groups don’t always have committed members. When members don’t come to meetings on a regular basis they lack the information shared during the meetings to help make a quality decision. Instead, when a final decision is almost reached, they decide to come to the meeting and present their views only to set the committee back or put them on hold because the group cannot come to consensus. Not only does it disrupt the decision-making process, it can also disrupt the trust and cohesion that has been developed among group members. It can also be frustrating to a group because time spent arriving at the solution was wasted and the process may need to be started all over again to resolve an issue. The future of the group can be at stake.
How can this problem be prevented? First, it is very important ALL committee members understand the commitment that is necessary from the beginning. Groups have had major discussions about establishing attendance requirements. It must be an expectation committee members attend meetings on a regular basis. Some groups have signed a letter of commitment outlining the expectation of attendance. Some groups have set up an attendance policy with a set number of allowable absences.
There will be times, someone will occasionally miss a meeting but if attendance becomes a problem, it may be necessary for the leader to talk with an individual about their attendance. It may be they don’t have the time or they have no interest, but it is important they either attend the meetings or resign from the committee.
If it’s a labor-management committee, the leader or co-chair from the appropriate side needs to have a conversation with an individual who does not attend on a regular basis. It may be an individual may not be comfortable with the process the group is using. If that happens, it’s okay for the person to resign. It also is very important to stress that if someone does not agree with the direction a group is going, group members attend meetings to voice concerns – not stop coming to meetings. The disagreement can provide the group with some additional information they may not have considered.
It is absolutely important to hear from all committee members during the entire problem solving process. Everybody has a different perspective whether they’re in agreement with the group or not. Waiting to voice concerns just as a committee is reaching agreement to a solution is not fair to those who have attended the meetings and worked hard at developing a solution.
We don’t know what will happen to the group from last week. We told the group to think about what was said and come back to the next meeting to decide how to proceed. We can only hope the work that was done and the relationship that was built will not be disrupted