Imagine if your employer used the strategy of delegating the organization’s key initiatives to a responsive, dedicated, and creative group of individuals able to effectively manage objectives and priorities, think strategically, and produce extraordinary results. Your first thought might be that this is the role served by your senior and mid-level managers, and you would be right.
However, as managers are often stretched beyond capacity to effectively manage time and responsibilities, it may become necessary to look for alternative solutions. Enter the peer-based committee, also referred to as an employee task force or action committee.
When operating under clear expectations with oversight and direction from senior management, the peer-based committee can fulfill an important niche, bridging the gap between strategic planning and the organization’s daily operations. If we think of the committee’s objectives as strategic in nature, then it makes perfect sense that the committee’s structure and composition are based on several key strategies designed to produce results.
In order for the committee to be effective in its charge, the first step to success is defining the committee’s purpose – i.e., what is it that needs to be accomplished? Providing clear definition of the goals, objectives, and responsibilities of the committee builds a solid foundation by giving direction and establishing expectations for the committee, its members, and senior management.
Defining the committee’s membership composition is a key factor for success. Ideally, the committee’s membership should represent the cross-functional structure of an organization’s departments and job functions, while consciously maintaining an effective group size. This strategy provides a varied level of knowledge and expertise, helping to ensure that committee business is handled with objectivity and a complete perspective.
After defining the committee’s composition, the process of candidate selection can begin, which perhaps is the most strategic initiative of all, because the committee’s success and effectiveness are dependent upon having the “right” people involved. The best candidates are those that have proven their ability to consistently exceed expectations, and are respected by their peers and management. In other words, the committee should be comprised of the organization’s future leaders, who will gain experience and visibility while building important leadership skills.
The committee’s effectiveness is highly dependent upon having an open and direct channel of communication with senior management, allowing for a frequent exchange of vital information. Additionally, if given some autonomy and encouragement to think outside the proverbial box, team members begin to work in a collaborative and innovative manner.
Upon successfully demonstrating their ability to work together to effectively manage existing initiatives and expectations, the team will be ready to assume ownership of items more strategic and complex in nature. Continuing to provide challenge and reward will aid in the professional development of the committee members, resulting in a highly professional, strategic, and effective team poised for success.
In my years working for a local community bank, I had the opportunity to serve on three such peer-based committees with an amazing group of colleagues. We “owned” oversight of company culture, communications, employee recognition, parties & celebrations, and innovation, to name just a few. Together, we accomplished so much, which still fills me with a great sense of pride all these years later.