What I learned by being a part of our committee

What I learned by being a part of our committee

Part One – What It Takes To Make a Team

I have been a part of a lot of teams both in a leadership and in a support role. As I have done that work, I came to understand that the best teams have the following components: 

  • Trust for each other and a respect for the skills that each member brings to the work.
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each committee member
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities for others that the committee works with
  • A rhythm of monthly meetings with similar sets of agenda items allowing the team to track progress between meetings.
  • A priority ranking of the goals that the team works on
  • And finally, but equally important, a set of core values that anchor the team. I’ve found time and time again that this is particularly important when there are challenges that each team must face.

When I became treasurer in February of 2019, I was pleased to discover a committee that already had in place all of these components. 

I was welcomed into the work that they were already doing and brought up to date on current issues facing our group that I needed to take care of as the new treasurer.

I was aided in my transition into this new role by Sherwin O’Bar who handed over the documentation I needed to begin to learn my duties. I had been the group’s treasurer when our family first move to the area in the early 90s. A lot had changed since then. I so appreciated Sherwin’s guidance and his answers to my many questions.

As the newest member of the committee, I needed to learn our committee’s processes. In our monthly meetings, I mostly kept my head down as I tried to recreate the excellent reports that Sherwin had been providing our group for years. The rest of the team was very patient with me. After about 3-4 months I began to feel comfortable with my new role and took on more duties working with our Spring Street Center (SSC) team. 

Jim had created job descriptions for each role at SSC. Each staff member had read these descriptions and signed their acceptance of them. The job descriptions included rates and rhythm of payments for services. It included how we would pay for the supplies for SSC. This documentation allowed me to see when payments were due for payroll and supplies. I appreciated the order that this created in my early work. 

The work of any committee – if it just involves taking in the donations and paying the bills – takes on a rhythm that is pretty easy to maintain. It’s when you are faced with challenges that you learn what a team is really made of.

The first challenge I saw as a member of the team was the need to repair our sewer pipes that were experiencing a lot more traffic than they had before we started our Air BnB business. We would have eventually discovered the roots blocking the pipe. The business just brought it to our attention sooner. 

Our house manager at the time was Marston Gregory. He interviewed multiple contractors and hired Bob Oats Plumbing. Soon our pipes were clean and running again. I wonder how long it would have taken us to get this work done without a House Manager with a clearly defined job description who could help the committee with the care of the building.

In my next part, I want to talk more about how our monthly rhythm helped us to make bigger decisions.