Take a Fresh Look at Committees

AE Committee Chair Update by Duncan MacKenzie, RCE, 2019 Association Executives Committee Chair, CEO, New York State Association of REALTORS®

This edition of REALTOR® AE is designed to help your association build better committees. As staff leaders, we must not only be open to change, we often need to start the discussion. It’s up to us to make sure that our leaderships periodically review all committees to ensure that they are relevant and effective.

When I became the CEO of NYSAR a dozen years ago, it seemed like we couldn’t have too many committees, working groups, task forces, PAGs, and the like. Fast forward to now and it seems like leaner and meaner is more the trend. Is leaner better than larger? Maybe.

Included in these pages is thought-provoking and practical information that you can apply to your own association. It will provide a lens for seeing how to better guide committees to advance the goals of your strategic and business plans.

There are REALTOR® association megaboards with tens of thousands of members, and there are boards of fewer than 100, all meeting the NAR Core Standards. Yet I imagine that no two boards, regardless of size, have the same committee needs and goals.

Our committee review was spirited and thoughtful. The focus was on a fundamental question: “Was the board, as currently constructed, making poor or untimely decisions?”

I’ll share an experience at my association: One of our committees was recently tasked to consider the benefits of reducing our board to below its current membership of 240. We were reacting to a trend that was emerging in which some state and local boards had reduced their size, in some cases significantly. There were very good reasons boards were contracting. In one case, a change was made because they had difficulty establishing a quorum and no work was getting done.

Our committee review was spirited and thoughtful. The focus was on a fundamental question: “Was the board, as currently constructed, making poor or untimely decisions?” No one could recall any, so the matter of cutting back was closed for the time being. Maybe we missed an opportunity, but I don’t think so. In addition to functioning efficiently and effectively, our large board size allowed a lot of members to be actively invested in the association’s success.

This process also worked for us because my elected leadership was open to discussing changes based on industry trends but not chained to a preconceived conclusion. The trend did not fit us, but rethinking the structure was a positive thing to do. We will have similar discussions in 2019 about some of our most important committees.

Restructuring discussions are almost always tough. They often mean taking away or shifting highly coveted things such as committee leadership positions. But don’t let that deter you and your leadership from building a better association through a better committee structure.

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