Continuing in our series aimed at the new committee chair, this article will go into the many ways you can encourage your committee members and help them enjoy their roles supporting the troop and its Scouts.
Learning to motivate
If you are lucky, your committee members will all be self-motivated to do their best and never let you down. Hopefully, everyone will see that the mission of the committee is to support the mission of the Boy Scouts of America and be motivated to see the unit succeed. Probably the best way to do this is by being serious in your own role. Leading by example is a powerful motivator, and when your committee members see your dedication, they’ll be inspired to give their best effort as well.
Another way to motivate is to emphasize the big picture. Explain as clearly as possible what you are trying to accomplish. The aims and methods of Scouting should be understood by all, and the emphasis on serving the boys and the program should come first. It’s easy to get caught up in setting up a fundraiser or service project, or keeping financial records or meeting minutes, and lose sight of the overall purpose.
Setting goals is an essential part of accomplishment. Without a clearly-stated goal, you’ll wander aimlessly, never knowing if you are on the right track or accomplishing your purpose. Leadership courses teach about SMART goals – goals which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Always ask if your goals meet the SMART test for best effectiveness.
The committee chair should keep in mind the need to provide the tools the committee needs. Resources and materials are important, of course, but one of the most important tools is authority. Just as we trust the boys to lead their troop, we must also trust our committee members to do the right thing. Don’t take away their power to perform their function and avoid micromanaging. Know how much responsibility they can handle and give them at least that much, or maybe a bit more, and you’ll be pleased when they rise to the occasion. Be sure to give feedback when it’s called for, and ask for honest feedback about yourself and your initiatives.
Mistakes are bound to happen, and as committee chair your job is to have their backs when they do. The committee chair is ultimately responsible, so don’t shy away from involvement if it’s needed to straighten out the mistake or correct things going forward. And fix the problem – don’t fix blame.
Hopefully, though, you won’t deal with mistakes nearly as often as you will enjoy success. When committee members do good work, praise them. Make sure you express sincere appreciation for a job well done, both personally and in public, such as at a troop or pack meeting or court of honor.
Finally, remember that good, clear communication is essential for success. You must clearly communicate goals and objectives, and ask for clear, concise information in return.
Make people feel important
As mentioned above, giving committee members responsibility and actual authority will help them feel a sense of ownership toward their role in the unit. Let them do their jobs and don’t second-guess them. The collective wisdom is always greater than the individual. Just because someone else doesn’t do things the way you would, that doesn’t mean that your way is better. Accomplishing the final outcome is more important than the way you get there, in most cases.
Acknowledge the importance of their position. Introducing someone as “OUR advancement chair” is a strong statement. It helps to reinforce that everyone makes an important contribution.
Don’t forget about fun and fellowship too. Take time to get to know your committee members. Bring snacks to a committee meeting, or plan a committee campfire on a campout. It’s important to carry the fun of the Scouting program into the adult experience.
Some committee members, especially new ones, may lack the confidence that they need to do a good job. Help them gain confidence by sharing the knowledge you have about Scouting and the committee. Listen to the concerns they have about their role, and provide insight into the best way to get the job done if it’s needed.
Be on the lookout for those who may be struggling, aren’t motivated or not getting the job done and find out what they need to succeed. It may just be direction as to what’s needed. It could also be resources, like names and phone numbers or processes and procedures they need to follow. You could offer to find an assistant or shadow to help with things they’re not confident or comfortable doing or simply don’t have the time. Give people the opportunity to succeed, especially if it’s something they want to do. If someone isn’t measuring up, your job is to find a way for them to succeed, even if it involves finding another job for them to do.
Also, keep an ear out for dissatisfaction. If this exists, you’ll usually hear about it second-hand. Try to find out more specifics through discussion and carefully-worded questions, and find ways to resolve the unhappiness.
Above all, think positive! Seek the good in everyone. Each parent and committee member has something valuable to contribute. Try to help them find it and give them the chance to help the boys. Don’t ever say unkind things about people – they all want the best for their sons – and distance yourself from those who badmouth others.
In the next installment of this series, we’ll discuss delegation, selection and recognition.