Monday, October 20, 2008

Rant on committees

I sit on a lot of committees. Doing so sounded way more exciting when I was younger and more foolish. Now I think of ways to delegate them.

I’m not sure if that’s a product of there simply being too many meetings - or if it is because invitations are handed out to too many folks. We all know everyone (including me) has an opinion - we don’t need to have them all represented at every meeting.

This fall, I’ve attended many meetings focused on networking and mentoring (again, the 2 words used interchangeably - see a previous post). The subject matter is no surprise but there are two common issues that arise at each one:

1 - The wheel is invented yet again. No one looking at how to do ‘it’ (mentoring or networking) differently - they just want to set up a committee to support it. How many committees in one organisation does it take…. an old joke. And ?why? must we silo by industry? Why reinvent the wheel by industry and then again by industry segment? i.e. can only your mom and your sister teach you to cook?

2 - At each meeting, folks talk about giving women access to senior leadership (vs. access to expertise or interest at any level). Come on! Doesn’t anyone at these meetings point out that networking is about creating interaction FROM WHICH comes the exposure?

That approach of ‘exposure to sr. leadership’ immediately creates pressure on attendees to flock around any senior people there and ‘make an impression’. We should be meeting everyone in the room. Impressions should come from good personal preparation and a well-run event.

If you’re on a committee to set up mentoring and networking in your organization, consider inviting someone who has already successfully run something. See if others across your organization are already engaged. See what other industries are doing and if there is any potential cross-over by piggy-backing. Most importantly, figure out WHY you are helping your organization network so that you’re not planning yet another event that no one knows how to make the most of.

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