In my last blog I talked about the importance of keeping Council members engaged between meetings – to Keep the Momentum Going after everyone has returned to their everyday business lives. In this blog I’ll discuss Sub-Committees and a few best practices for integrating them into your Advisory Council program.
The Sub-Committee: High Impact, Light Lifting
It is important to follow a process and approach when organizing these working groups. “High impact, light lifting” refers to the effort we put forth to make it as easy as possible for our customer and their council members to “continue the conversation” between meetings. See below for an outline the four-step process we follow for managing Sub-Committees.
1. Topics for Discussion
The Sub-Committee should focus on a specific topic or subject. What is good “Sub-Committee” material? Here are a few examples:
- A next step identified by the host that requires further input/feedback from the Council members (or a subset of members).
- A “hot topic” that came up during the meeting that a number of members clearly could spend more time discussing.
- An innovative idea and/or suggestion that came up during the meeting that members expressed an interest in exploring.
- A specific topic/area of the business where a Subject Matter Expert is needed to continue the discussion.
It is very important to clearly define the purpose of the Sub-Committee and expectations of members. Develop a Sub-Committee “Charter” for all participants (customer and host) outlining:
- Duties (for both customer and host)
- Participants (Leader, facilitator and customers)
In addition, it’s a good idea to share a “Timeline of Activities” with all members early in the process so they have an understanding of the frequency of meetings and can reserve time on their calendars in advance.
To stay mindful of the time commitment of customers, we recommend Sub-Committee meetings are in the form of conference calls, and no more than one hour. Based on the subject, several calls (as communicated via the Timeline) may be needed to accomplish the goals of the Sub-Committee. Agendas are sent in advance, as is any pre-work that may be required for the discussions, and progress is shared among the group at regular intervals.
4. Sharing Results
This is the best part! A “celebration” is included at the next face-to-face meeting to report accomplishments back to the group and recognize the efforts of all Sub-Committee members. It’s a great way to thank your customers for their contributions and it encourages others to join in future Sub-Committee groups.
By following these four steps, your Sub-Committee engagements will be focused, well-planned meetings, easy for members to participate in, with clear goals and purpose.