Clarifying committee/staff roles

The relationship between Management Committee and staff can be a difficult one if the boundaries and roles are not clarified. These boundaries can often be difficult to clearly define, and can vary significantly amongst organisations.

Where there are few or no paid staff, the Management Committee often has a very hands-on role. However, in large organisations where the Management Committee has little involvement in the day-to-day running or management of the organisation.  Where there are paid staff, it is essential that the Management Committee and the senior staff member understand their role and boundaries, and demonstrate respect for each other's position and powers.

Clarifying roles and boundaries

To ensure good relations between staff and the Management Committee, it is important to clarify the division of responsibilities. The table below illustrates how areas can be split between the Management Committee's role of carrying ultimate responsibility, and the staff's role of delivering within set targets/boundaries.

However, note that even this is not a clear template - the division of roles must be determined by each organisation. What is key to ensure that the Management Committee's role in being ultimately accountable for the organisation and the direction of its activities is not diluted.

  The role of the management committee is to... The role of staff and/or volunteers is to...
Overall ...lead, direct and ensure ...manage, implement and deliver
Vision and leadership ...develop/approve long-term strategic plans and monitors progress in implementing the strategic plan ...carry out agreed work plan, which helps achieve organisation's long-term plans
Accountability and legal liability ...monitor the activities of the organisation and ensure that activities support the organisation's overall purpose/aims ...prepare/present reports on activities to the Management Committee
Keeping it legal ...ensure compliance with all relevant legal and regulatory requirements ...follow organisational policy/procedures as set out by the Management Committee and report to Committee
Financial management

...ensure adequate financial resources are sought/secured

...ensure money and property is properly managed prepare funding applications as agreed with Management Committee

...follow organisation's financial procedures, keep books up-to-date, prepare reports, etc as agreed with Management Committee
Managing staff and volunteers ...ensure appropriate organisational policies and procedures are in place ...put organisational policies and procedures into practice

Summary

The Management Committee must set out what it sees as the responsibilities of staff or volunteers and the limits of delegated decision-making authority. Always keep in mind the essential distinction:

  • the role of the Management Committee, in broad terms, is to lead, direct and ensure the organisation operates effectively; and
  • the role of the staff is to manage, implement and carry out work that helps the organisation achieve its mission/overall purpose.