As I wrote in the entry about the Board and policy governance, this organizational structure definitely helps the Board and staff by providing greater clarity on roles and responsibilities. The same can be said for the work of committees. Every committee and group in the congregation is “attached” to a staff member. That means that there is a direct line of communication from the Board (setting vision) to the Executive (setting strategy) to staff members (guiding programs) and their committees and groups and back again. This structure keeps the organization lined up, so to speak, with everyone aiming in the same direction.
As one example, although “Activity Groups” are one of the small group ministries of the congregation, I am the attached staff member (all the other small groups are attached to Rev. Lisa). Therefore, if someone wants to start an Activity Group, or conduct an activity “out of the norm” for their group, I am the contact person with whom to consult.
Another example: Ushers & Greeters are a key component of the care and connections ministry of UUCA, and they are attached to Rev. Lisa. That means that Rev. Lisa and the committee work together to organize and perform that necessary function. From this example it ought to be obvious that Lisa can’t do all the work herself (counter to the weird rumor around here that we don’t need volunteers anymore because staff does it all—dark humor indeed for a staff with more ideas than bodies) but having her attached to this group means that she can help guide them as they brainstorm and design their group’s role so that goals of the overall care and connections ministries of the congregation are in sync with the vision of the Board.
Again, the clarity gained from using a governance structure that defines the flow of accountability and responsibility among the congregation, board, staff and committees is enormous. Yet I know we have members of the congregation, both long-time and new, who feel they don’t quite have a handle on this system.
In this case, I don’t have any questions for you, but perhaps you have questions for me. As always, feel free to comment or question as you feel moved, either through this post or privately if you wish. We on staff are really enjoying your interactivity here. Keep up the good work!
Linda, thank you for the clarity of this! I’d like to ask all our leaders reading this how we can engender more investment in all our committees? Let’s think outside the box in attempting to engage one another in developing and strengthening participation in our committee structures and development.
I’m on quicksand here…but committee membership under policy governance is different than a pure volunteer committee where anyone interested and willing to put in the meeting time is welcomed regardless of skill set brought to the project. In policy governance the staff coordinator has the responsibility and ability to screen volunteers for contributory skills and experience in the subject, and recruit those expected to contribute the most to the committee charge. This would include screening “applicants” for having communication skills and an email account. It is almost impossible in this day of age to manage a committee without 100% electronic connection. This leaves plenty of jobs to do not requiring email contact, but the organizing committee to efficiently conduct business needs to be connected.
I notice in the 7/25 Enews a call for sub-committee members for two tasks under the Campus Development umbrella. The language is subtle: “To apply…submit qualifications indicating why you would be a good selection for the committee.” This is a good policy governance approach, and consistent with my position, but I wonder how interested parties not “qualified” by experience will be handled.