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Even with good planning some club meetings can still be difficult. Common issues include people not turning up or not contributing properly but in some cases meetings can descend into arguments and conflict.
Below are some of the issues you may face in a meeting, with some tips to help you avoid them in the first place or how to handle them if they do arise:
Dealing with absenteeism
The first step in dealing with regular absentees may be to identify the reasons why committee members are missing meetings.
- Logistical issues such as time or location of the meeting
- Some committee members may not be receiving notifications so it’s worth checking everyone’s contact details are correct
- Issues such as personal illness or that of family members
- Committees can often be dominated by just a few long term members
- There may be regular conflict at committee meetings which discourages people from attending.
It is important to approach the situation sensitively as the committee member in question may have a legitimate reason for not attending. It is therefore important for the chairperson to speak regularly with absentees to see whether there is a solution.
Dealing with conflict
- Avoid it before it happens- Set meeting rules and develop a code of conduct for the club management/committee which has clear guidelines on behaviour.
- Don’t get upset or emotional
- Try to isolate issues and deal with them logically, try to reach agreement before moving on.
- Develop a code of conduct for the club management/committee which has clear guidelines on behaviour, responsibilities, ways of working, culture and best practice in fulfilling the club’s obligations.
- Consider taking ‘a step back’ from the general committee business to remind and refocus the committee members on why they got involved in the first place!
Dealing with difficult people
In order to overcome problems that you encounter when dealing with difficult people, adopt a strategy plan as follows:
- Identify the type of difficult person you are dealing with
- Identify their worst habits and what bothers you most
- Rehearse the strategy to apply next time the situation arises
Role of the chair
The role of the chairperson is important in managing difficult meetings. Their skill in people management as well as the general behaviours and attitudes of the committee members are the key to successful meetings. The chairperson should work to make sure that:
- Meetings start and end on time
- Concentrate on business in hand
- Members state for the minutes that they are clear what decision they are being asked to make
- All views – for and against – have been clearly stated
- There is clear agreement or a deciding vote taken on any decision
- Minutes record the key facts and results as well as disagreements
- At the end of each topic on the agenda there is a clear summary with actions noted and agreed and allocated with timelines/ deadlines
Balancing healthy debate and efficient decision making, and at the same time allowing the dominant and quieter personalities equal opportunities to contribute to the meeting, is very important.