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Chapter 4: Committees of management

Committees of management are critical to good governance.  

Committees of management make important decisions and determine the direction of the registered organisation. Officers on the committee (or the ‘COM’ as it is sometimes called) are the leaders of the organisation. They manage finances, influence strategic direction, and oversee other governance activities. Consequently, they should be:

  • surrounded by and encourage good governance processes to ensure these functions are accountable, transparent, and free from conflict, and 
  • modelling good governance to the organisation.

 

Who is part of the committee of management?

Committees of management usually include senior leadership positions such as the secretary and president, and generally a small number of other officers. Membership of the committee of management is outlined in your organisation’s rules. Ensuring diversity in committees is encouraged because it creates innovation, grows your talent pool and embraces different perspectives. 

In some organisations’ rules, the committee of management may be called something else, such as 'the board' or 'the executive'. 

 

Why is good governance essential to a strong committee of management? 

The committee of management is a collection of individuals who work together to make decisions in the best interests of members. They have diverse opinions, skills, experience, interests and are often volunteers. Many of them will be new to the role and with elections will be rotating frequently.

This is why officer induction and good governance is essential – to help the organisation keep corporate knowledge, stay on track with long term projects, minimise risks and avoid inefficiencies.

 

 

     
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Typical functions of a committee of management

The typical functions of the committee of management include: 

  • making decisions about the organisation’s spending
  • approving budgets
  • approving loans, grants and donations
  • preparing and monitoring the organisation’s policies, strategies and plans 
  • enforcing the rules of the organisation
  • drafting and voting on changes to the rules or policies
  • executing strategies in relation to key issues affecting the organisation.

Check your organisation’s rules for the full list of functions of your committee of management

 

All members of the committee of management in every registered organisation:

Good governance tips for committees of management 

There is no group in a registered organisation with more influence on governance and culture than the committee of management. Therefore, it is crucial that the committee is well-run and effective. Below are some of our best practice tips for committees of management. These ideas might help you improve your processes or help you think of better ideas that work for your organisation.

 
     
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Useful Tip: disagreement can lead to better decision making

Encouraging your officers to voice their concerns or provide alternate views can lead the committee of management to reach stronger solutions for the organisation.

 

Hold regular meetings 

Your committee should be meeting regularly. All committee members should be invited to the meeting, be given details of when the meeting is, what is to be covered in the meeting and have enough time to attend. For more information about meeting practices, see our Conducting meetings fact sheet

An agenda should be issued well ahead of the meeting and officers should turn their mind to whether there are any items on the agenda that might cause them an actual or potential conflict or may give that perception (and the steps they need to take to address that).

Standing agenda items concerning conflicts of interest or material personal interest can encourage a culture of making disclosures. Senior officers and other leaders should emphasise they and all officers are required to speak-up during those items. This is an excellent way to stand up and demonstrate a culture of good governance.

Consider materials ahead of the meeting

Any papers about matters like finances or significant issues should be provided to members of the committee in advance of the meeting. All committee members should be encouraged to read these before the meeting and be encouraged to ask questions during the meeting. 

 

Questions and discussion should be encouraged during the meeting

High levels of respect for fellow committee members should be encouraged, as well as discussion and debate. Officers will need to make proper inquiries to make informed decisions. 

Remember that professional disagreement and discussion can lead to even better solutions for the organisation, everyone has different experience and knowledge to bring to the committee and may not have considered other perspectives.

Individual officers must make their own decisions, they are all individually responsible for each decision even if ‘going along with the majority’.

Remember good governance and your organisation’s purpose 

When making decisions and debating options, the committee should be aware of the driving principles of good governance, such as transparency, accountability and making decisions that reflect the proper purpose of the organisation and are in the best interest of members.

If you have new officers, consider whether a series of dot points could be circulated that encourage them to turn their mind to common governance issues. Another idea is creating a general template addressing things like transparency and purpose for each project.

 

Consider the level of risk 

Extra care should always be taken when the committee is considering issues that have a higher level of risk, such as the purchase of a big asset or ongoing financial commitments. 

Risk is a very complicated area, and you should not assume that everyone on the committee has training in understanding various risks and risk mitigation. Big projects should have risk registers that explain how each risk is going to be mitigated and what risk remains for the organisation.

Good governance processes around conflict awareness, related parties and personal interest minimise risks that attach to the decision makers. While a culture of reading documents, asking questions and lively debate can reduce risks around any decisions being made.

Consider advice from independent experts 

Officers should seek clarification and assistance from independent experts such as their accountant or auditor on complex matters so they can make informed decisions. This includes advice on matters like the financial reports. However, officers must still turn their own minds to these things and not rely solely on the independent advice. 

 

 

Further resources 

Conducting meetings fact sheet 
Disclosures fact sheet
ROCpod episode 13 holding meetings
Officers and disclosures digital classroom module

 

Go back to:
Good Governance Guide introduction

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Next chapter 5:
Financial decision making