Productive committee work depends on multiple factors - a defined mission, an effective organization, purposeful procedures and a positive work environment. And when it comes to the work environment, there is no more important tool than a realistic, reasonable Committee Code of Conduct. Read on to learn more.
What is a Committee Code of Conduct?
At its core, the committee "code of conduct" establishes working guidelines for expected committee member conduct and participation. But the real purpose goes well beyond setting rules to "setting expectations". In essense, a defined "code of conduct" says "if you're going to participate in this committee, this is how we expect you to conduct yourself".
Is this kind of code really necessary? After all, if you're involved in projects, and you're invited to join a committee, odds are you already know what is expected of you (in terms of professional behavior and conduct). But the committee "code of conduct" is not about individual committee members (or project stakeholders) - it's about creating a positive committee environment.
And why is that important? At the end of the day, a committee is a reflection of the people and projects involved. Projects can be difficult, and often contentious, leading to conflicts, power struggles, and misunderstandings. All of this can quickly diminish committee credibility and productivity. On the other hand, a positive committee environment (characterized by cooperation, collaboration, open communication and mutual respect) makes it easier to avoid conflicts and focus on the job at hand. The "code of conduct" is an important tool for that purpose.
Code of Conduct Benefits
What are the key benefits to be realized when you work within the parameters of a good committee "code of conduct"?
- It puts everyone on the same page as committee work begins. With the right "code of conduct" committee members will know exactly what is expected of them and can act accordingly. It also means each member will know how he or she will judged for future opportunities (so it's a motivator).
- It demonstrates that the project and committee leadership is committed to creating and promoting a positive working environment.
- It serves as a benchmark to evaluate committee member performance.
- It provides the basis for addressing the types of negative behaviors that serve to inhibit a positive committee environment.
- It improves the chances for committee success, serving to build credibility and confidence in committee actions.
Interaction, Participation and Communication
The committee "code of conduct" is published as part of the documented Committee Charter (so it can be approved by all in advance), and at a minimum, it should cover the three (3) key aspects of committee member conduct - interaction, participation and communication.
Inside the Code of Conduct:
As the "code of conduct" is prepared, these are the key guidelines to be addressed:
- Interaction guidelines set the standard for how committee members are to interact with eachother (and others) to ensure that all parties are treated with proper respect, consideration and decorum.
- Participation guideliness set the standard for how committee members are to carry out their assigned roles and responsibilities, covering timeliness, attendance, and living up to promises and committments.
- Communication guidelines set the standard for how committee members are to share information and how and when the various means of communication are to be utilized, including memos, email, meetings and related activities.
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